Hip Hop Docs


HIP HOP HISTORY/GENERAL

Beat This: A Hip-Hop History – 1984
Beat This: A Hip-Hop History is a 1984 BBC documentary film about hip-hop culture, directed by Dick Fontaine. The film includes footage from Herc’s original dance parties — The Cold Crush Brothers, Jazzy Jay, Brim Fuentes, and The Dynamic Rockers. It is narrated by Imhotep Gary Byrd. Originally part of the Arena television series, it was among the first crop of documentaries about hip-hop.
ONLINE: http://watchdocumentary.org/watch/beat-this-a-hip-hop-history-video_dcdcca43d.html

Rhyme & Reason – 1997
The world and culture of rap song topics such as race, violence, police, family and sex are examined by hip-hop performers from both coasts.
*MRC (VIDEO/C 6504), Netflix

Style Wars -1983
This 1983 documentary charts a trend taking over New York City, with graffiti artists transforming the urban landscape through a new visual dialect. Listed as one of the 25 best documents streaming on Netflix right now by complex.com.
*Netflix

The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 (2011)
From 1967 to 1975, a film crew directed their cameras at America’s Black Power movement, producing footage that remained unreleased for decades.
*Netflix

The Hu$tle: A Gangsta Rap Documentary – 1999
Some of the hottest stars of gangsta rap give their opinions of the rap game, the business, the hustle. Is there an East vs. West feud? Who started rap? Who put Gangsta Rap on the map? Who’s got beef in the industry?
*MRC (VIDEO/C 7636)

RAPPING

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap – 2012
In his directorial debut, Ice-T interviews dozens of other rap and hip-hop artists, including Mos Def, Eminem and Dr. Dre, about their creative processes. Focusing on the craft rather than the bling, Ice-T also documents the music’s history.
*MRC (DVD X8035), Netflix

The Art of 16 Bars – 2005
The best MCs in the business reveal tips for success, from holding a mic and making a demo to performing live and getting signed.
*Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mKxnL7zd3o

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme – 2004
Documents the story of a group of underground hip-hop MCs and DJs from the early 1980s to the present day. A work-in-progress educational documentary, made over a seven year period, which explores the world of improvisational rap and takes the viewer on a journey through the previously unexamined dimensions of hip-hop as a spiritual and community-based art form.
*MRC (DVD 6012)

The Beef Series
The Beef series takes a chronological look at battles dating back to rap music’s infancy in the early 1980’s. The notable rilvaries discussed include KRS-One vs. MC Shan, Kool Moe Dee vs. Busy Bee, 50 Cent vs. Murder Inc., Tru Life vs. Mobb Deep, Common vs. Ice Cube & Westside Connection, the break-up of legendary group N.W.A, which includes Ice Cube’s abrupt departure, and the later animosity between Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, the highly publicized Jay-Z vs. Nas rilvary and the most infamous dued of them all, 2Pac vs. The Notorious B.I.G.

Beef I (2003): ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nfSvAUEJvo, Netflix

Beef II (2004): ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y1Srz4S7fk, Netflix

Beef III (2005): ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH2_i2IiwR4, Netflix

HIP HOP AND RACE/CULTURE

Rap, Race, & Equality – 1994
This documentary is an informative look at the issues which rap artists attempt to deal with through their music, such as racism, economic and social inequality and race relations. It suggests that rap music flows out of the African storytelling tradition and shows how it enhances the African American sense of identity. Also examines such controversial areas as sexism and censorship as it applies to rap music. Includes interviews with musicians from Ice Cube, Ice T, Public Enemy, and Naughty by Nature.
*MRC (VIDEO/C 3968)

Eli Jacobs Fantauzzi: Inventos: Hip Hop Cubano – 2005
Presents unique insights into the Hip-Hop scene in Cuba and the reality of contemporary Cuban politics. The film follows the innovators of this musical movement to their homes, the stage, and as they travel abroad for the first time. Inventos embodies the true spirit of Hip Hop, which is to create something powerful and useful out of what is seemingly impossible. Cuban Hip Hop demonstrates the creative and indestructible spirit of the island and its people despite the hardships of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
*MRC (DVD 7637)

Blacking Up: Hip Hop’s Remix of Race & Identity – 2010
This documentary examines the popularity of hip-hop among America’s white youth and asks whether white identification is rooted in admiration and a desire to transcend race or if it is merely a new chapter in the long continuum of stereotyping, mimicry and cultural appropriation. Does it reflect a new face of racial understanding in white America or does it reinforce an ugly history? Against the unique backdrop of American popular music, the film explores racial identity in the United States. The film draws parallels between the white hip-hop fan and previous incarnations of white appropriation from blackface performer Al Jolson to mainstream artists like Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and Eminem. It interweaves portraits of white hip-hop artists and fans with insightful commentary by African American cultural critics.
*MRC (DVD X3194)

Black and White – 2000
When Rich Bower decides to reinvent himself as a hip-hop impresario after a life of crime, he is confronted by the internecine dealings of the white world. Documentary filmmaker Sam Donager and her husband enter the scene as they follow a group of privileged uptown teenagers who are drawn to the hip-hop lifestyle.
*MRC(DVD 5701)

961 Underground: The Rise of Lebanese Hip Hop – 2006
961 Underground is a first for Lebanon and brilliant debut production from DJ Lethal Skillz who himself also features in the film. Cut together the way Skillz mixes – with a freshness and style that makes you feel like you’re actually watching a live scratch section through film – this is documentary to enjoy as well as to educate on what will soon be the new worldwide wave of Lebanese Hip Hop. It is about time the talented rappers, DJs and producers of Lebanon reach a global audience and 961 Underground is the film that finally and none too soon puts them on the map.
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sah0rI2mXsY

Saz: The Palestinian Rapper for Change – 2004
This provocative documentary goes behind the ghetto walls of Ramlah to look at a year in the life of budding Palestinian hip-hop star Sameh Zakout a.k.a. Saz. Growing up in a Jewish neighborhood as a third generation of a moderate family, Saz has had to learn to balance their traditional viewpoints with his strong feelings of insult and rage for the injustices his people have suffered. He does this through music, using it as a starting point for discussion with Israeli and Arab youth who have grown further apart since the recent Intifada. For Saz, music is a place where people who disagree can come together. It takes him to the clubs and neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and London. The film also looks at his relationship with his aging grandfather, a refugee of the 1948 war, whose conversations reveal their differing ideologies.
*MRC (DVD 6573)

Follow Your Heart – China’s New Youth movement – 2007
A revealing documentary on the work and life of successful and independent Chinese Hip-Hop artists and their cultural influence in a society rapidly changing from communism to consumerism. Clashing with both traditional Chinese values and new modern ones, these artists believe that Hip-Hop allows for the expression of freedom and being true to oneself. Furthermore, the film describes the high optimism and convictions of this new generation that will inherit a political and economic superpower.
*MRC (DVD X5110)

Hiphopistan – 2007
This documentary examines the impact of Hip-Hop culture on Istanbul youth and reveals how young Turkish rappers, DJs, break-dancers, and graffiti artists creatively blend popular influences with their local cultural values and traditions. In a world that is becoming increasingly exposed to global media, much has been debated as to whether or not societies and individuals can adopt influences from music, television, cinema, internet and fashion in a positive and constructive way without losing their own cultural identities and heritage.
*MRC (DVD X5076)

The Bhangra Rap – 1994
An energetic documentary about a vibrant South Asian youth subculture that fuses hip hop, rap and Bhangra music. Based in Toronto, Canada and New York City, Bhangra is a mix of old and new, and is symbolic of universal cultural transformation for new generations.
*MRC(VIDEO/C 4180)

Hip Hop Underground – 2009
An Eisner Prize winning video selected for creativity and produced by students at the University of California, Berkeley. A documentary of the burgeoning hip hop music scene developing in and around Yangon, Burma. Despite government opposition and the country’s history of persecution of artists, the popularity of hip hop music continues to grow. This film asks “How does hip hop music and an oppressive regime coexist?” and “How does this impact the work and personal lives of the musicians who live under the regime?”

HIP HOP AND GENDER

Say My Name – 2009
In a hip hop and R&B world dominated by men and noted for misogyny, these unstoppable female lyracists speak candidly about class, race, and gender in pursuing their passions as female emcees. This worldwide documentary takes viewers on a vibrant tour of urban cultures and musical movements, from hip hop’s birthplace in the Bronx, to grime on London’s Eastside and all points Philly, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and LA in between.
*MRC (DVD X4591)

Thieves in the Temple – 2007
A battle cry for grassroots consumers and creators of hip hop, particularly women, to snatch back our generation’s culture. Aya explores a variety of characters, including a sex object emcee on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and a West Coast hardcore emcee with an unusual case of Tourette’s Syndrome that makes him reveal his sensitive side. She also takes time to get in touch with the gangsta rapper within. At the center, however, is her personal journey from teenage fan to center stage, from victim to visionary for women in hip hop.
*MRC (DVD X6600)

Hip Hop – Beyond Beats and Rhymes
A look at the conceptualization of masculinity in hip-hop culture. Pays tribute to hip-hop while challenging the rap music industry to take responsibility for too often perpetuating destructive, deeply conservative styles of manhood that glamorize sexism, violence, and homophobia. Includes interviews with prominent rappers, music industry executives, and social critics.
*MRC (DVD 6448)
ONLINE: http://watchdocumentary.org/watch/hip-hop-beyond-beats-rhymes-video_5c5734dc8.html

TUPAC

Thug Angel: The Life of An Outlaw – 2002
This documentary explores Tupac, the soldier, whose career was deeply formed by his Black Panther heritage, the artist and entertainer who is, perhaps, the most prolific writer in the hip-hop music industry. Killed before he was able to realize his true and full potential he has become the first Black mythical icon.
*MRC (DVD 1240), Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1ILZcUsqgM

Biggie & Tupac – 2002
British documentarian Nick Broomfield investigates the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, digging up some surprises in the process.
*MRC (DVD 1697), Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x02bE_GzbJo

Tupac, Resurrection – 2004
A look at the life and career of infamous rapper Tupac Shakur, told entirely in his own words. Home movies, photographs, and recited poetry illustrate his life as one of the most beloved, revolutionary, and volatile hip-hop MCs of all time.
*MRC (DVD 9662)
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkQrQuqoKs0

Thug Immortal – 1997
Through home-video footage and interviews with those who knew him, this film details the life and untimely death of Tupac Shakur, one of America’s best known and most controversial Rap stars.
*MRC (VIDEO/C 6872)
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuOcI5NATic

THE INDUSTRY

The MC: Why We Do It – 2005
This is a documentary about MCs, and not just what it means to be one, but what a rise to the top actually entails: business, industry contacts, networking, and where talent or hard work will (or won’t) take you. Also, the assembled group of subjects and interviews? All-Stars. Think KRS-One, Rakim, Kanye West, MC Lyte, Too Short, and Common, and Jay-Z.

The Industry – 2004
The Industry is a highly entertaining and revealing documentary that goes beyond the surface of the music business to examine the inner world of the industry and the true politics behind getting an album made. The film is seen from the perspective of the multi-Grammy-winning and platinum artists like Kanye West and Outkast.
*Netflix

Welcome to Death Row – 2010
The record label Death Row Records has, since its creation in 1993, been synonymous with the American hip-hop climate. Welcome to Death Row video Formed by ex-bodyguard Suge Knight, the label has released seminal rap albums from luminaries including Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and the famous hip-hop martyr Tupac Shakur. WELCOME TO DEATH ROW is a fascinating, well-researched documentary, which explores the history of this intriguing and incredibly significant company.
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV2PQkzfntI

HIP HOP RELATED

Just for Kicks – 2005
Taking a look at the three-decade rise of sneakers, this documentary explores the influence of athletes and entertainers on the trend, focusing particularly on the world of hip-hop. Athletes and musicians weigh in on how shoes shape American culture.
*Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAFIvKLva58

Copyright Criminals – 2009
In this incisive documentary, filmmakers Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod explore the creative, ethical and legal implications of sampling — a technique by which hip-hop artists use snippets of other performers’ compositions in their own tracks. Is sampling a fair use of other artists’ work to create a brand new music form, or is it copyright infringement, plain and simple? Chuck D., George Clinton and other musical heavy hitters weigh in.
*MRC ( DVD X3366 ), Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIoR3PYpduo

Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop – 2005
Despite their commercial success, award-winning hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Lil’ Kim and Nas can’t escape the prying eyes of the New York City police department, which reportedly watches every move they make. In this tell-all documentary program, retired NYPD Detective Derrick Parker unmasks the top secret rap unit created after the murder of Notorious B.I.G. and reveals a few of its surveillance secrets.
*Netflix

Graffiti/Post Graffiti – 1984
Explains the art style that evolved from graffiti spray-painted on subway surfaces to canvas paintings now hung in major art galleries. In this documentary of the early ’80′s movement, the viewer listens to the movers and shakers of this imaginative trend, and examines the Hip-Hop culture in action, traveling to the South Bronx where most of it started.
*MRC(VIDEO/C 6323)

Bling: A Planet Rock – 2006
Documentary that takes a satirical, hard-hitting look at how “blinging” in the flashy world of commercial hip-hop played a role in the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leone. Film takes U.S. hip-hop celebrities on a journey to Sierra Leone diamond mining communities where they meet former child soldiers, refugees and local hip-hop artists.
*MRC (DVD X1620), Netflix

Scratch – 2001
A feature-length documentary film about hip-hop DJing, otherwise known as turntables. From the South Bronx in the 1970s to San Francisco now, the world’s best scratchers, beat-diggers, party-rockers, and producers wax poetic on beats, breaks, battles, and the infinite possibilities of vinyl.
*MRC(DVD 1404)
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj1r6u8zLPo

Rhyme and Punishment – 2009
This documentary examines the relationship between prison and hip-hop while telling the stories of convicted rappers like Prodigy and Slick Rick.
*Netflix

Ghostride the Whip – 2008
Explore hyphy, the hip-hop phenomenon that’s taken over San Francisco’s Bay Area, through interviews with Oakland-based artists.
*Netflix

American Pimp – 2000
American Pimp is a 1999 documentary that examines the pimp subculture in the United States. It was directed by the Hughes Brothers, the filmmakers behind Menace II Society and Dead Presidents.
*Netflix

Cocaine Cowboys – 2006
This documentary explores the many dimensions of Miami’s cocaine-trafficking boom of the 1980s, as told by the smugglers and cops who were there.
*Netflix

Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustlin’ with the Godmother – 2008
A drug dealer begins an affair with the “Cocaine Godmother,” a woman who, unbeknownst to the man, kills her lovers with ruthless indifference.
*Netflix

Marley -2012
This documentary explores the music, life and legacy of reggae icon Bob Marley, from his birth in 1945 to his death from cancer at age 36.
*Netflix

Crips and Bloods: Made in America – 2008
Through archival footage and first-person accounts from members of both factions, filmmaker Stacy Peralta’s riveting documentary examines the culture of the infamous Los Angeles street gangs known as the Crips and the Bloods. Probing the deadly rivalry’s genesis, Peralta explores the late 1960s conditions that have given rise to decades of bloodshed and heartache for generations of black Angelenos.
*Netflix

EXTRAS
And Ya Don’t Stop – Compilation
Twelve music videos from the greatest minds of hip hop.
*MRC (DVD 416)

SPECIFIC ARTISTS/GROUPS:

Notorious BIG: Bigger than Life – 2007
Hip-hop legend Notorious B.I.G., who helped put East Coast rap back on top in the 1990s before his much-publicized shooting death, is remembered by his closest friends, including Diddy, Method Man and Easy Mo Bee in this revealing documentary. Rare archival footage shows Biggie freestyling in Brooklyn, Biggie chilling at home, Biggie in an interview shortly before his death, as well as crime scene footage from the night of his murder.
*Netflix

Jay Z: Reasonable Doubt – 2007
Get an inside look at the creative process that launched the career of one of rap’s most influential artists and executives with this fascinating documentary that follows the creation of Jay-Z’s smash hit 1996 debut album, “Reasonable Doubt.”
*Netflix
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXfgKbp9ncQ

WU: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan – 2006
In the summer of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan emerged from the slums of Staten Island, NY and took the hip-hop world by storm. Their legacy spanned over a decade, selling more than 20 million albums. Their talents brought them success and their music made them legends. “WU: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan” is an inspiring tale of the Clan’s rise to power, fall from greatness and phoenix-like rebirth. This gem of a documentary includes a spectacular presentation of never before seen rare concert footage and interviews intimately narrated by acclaimed, Gerald “Gee-Bee” Barclay.
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKEPGeR6Q_s

Ice Cube: The Making of a Don – 2004
ONLINE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbhXskuyAL0

Eminem AKA – 2004
Follow Eminem’s rise to fame in this documentary that recounts the groundbreaking rapper’s early years growing up in Detroit, featuring interviews with family and friends, footage from an early rap battle and more.
*Netflix

Beats, Rhymes & Life – 2011
The ’98 break-up of one of hip-hop’s most influential groups, A Tribe Called Quest, left many saddened and confused. Ten years after their last album, director Michael Rapaport took fans inside Tribe’s 2008 reunion tour, interweaving artist commentary and archival footage to tell the group’s tumultuous tale.

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