Hip hop film

Hip hop films are motion pictures that display the four elements of hip hop. Often hip hop films will use video clips from recorded concerts and documentaries.


In 1982, all the elements of hip hop were combined into a motion picture for the first time. Wild Style portrayed DJing, breaking, MCing, and graffiti art. It is a classic according to hip hoppers not only because of all the elements being portrayed, but also because it is set in the birthplace of hip hop, the South Bronx. This marked the beginning of movies and stories being told from a hip hop perspective.

Another movie that portrays the elements, but mostly graffiti art, is Style Wars.


The first Hip Hop art film was the short Breakspeare by Julie Covello.[1] It was written in 1983 when Covello was a student at Syracuse University, it was first screened in spring of 1984. The film explored classic art vs. street art in a rap battle that included one emcee rhyming in Elizabethan English. The film won the Region 3 award for Best Experimental Film in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Student Film Awards in 1985.


After Wild Style, the next feature length hip hop movie would focus on dance. Breakin' debuted in 1984 and focused on west coast hip hop. West coast dancers added to break dancing by introducing the boogaloo, popping and locking. These forms of dancing are the center of attention in this movie. The film was directed by Joel Silberg and written by Charlie Parker and Allen DeBevoise.

Hip hop movie shift

After Wild Style, Breakin', Krush Groove, and Beat Street, writers began to not only focus on the main elements of hip hop, but also to incorporate these elements into more mainstream story lines and genres. Although the story lines became more mainstream, the aesthetics and the display of the culture remained the same.

In 1985, the first hip hop martial arts film, The Last Dragon debuted. Hip hop has always had a connection to martial arts, as can be seen in some of the breaking techniques. In this particular film produced by Berry Gordy, CEO of Motown Records, the soundtrack and the dance scenes distinguished it as an authentic hip hop movie.


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