9 Must-See Hip-Hop Docs

by

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hip-Hop turning 50 is not only a celebration of music but of life and culture. So, the best way to understand its journey from questionable fad to a global entity is with these must-watch docs below.

1. Rhyme & Reason (1997)

The 90s era of Hip-Hop was different. It was the beginning stages of rap music’s commercial success matching its critical acclaim. Rhyme & Reason reveals the people behind the mics and what makes them do what they do. “Rap is something that’s being done. Hip-Hop is something that is being lived.”KRS-One

2. My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women in Hip Hop (2010)

Ava DnVernay directs this piece from Hip-Hop’s unsung artists: the women. From B-Girls to MCs, the women of Hip-Hop’s past and present speak on the value of their voice to break down doors set up against them; featured guest MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, Eve, Salt N Pepa, Roxanne Shante, Trina, and more.

3. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)

This is a story of how childhood friends Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and sometimes Jarobi created one of the greatest all-time musical groups. From banging drum sounds on lunch tables to rocking shows across the globe, A Tribe Called Quest’s innovative sound and lyrics created off springs such as Pharrell Williams, J. Dilla, Little Brother, Kanye West, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and more.

4. Nas: Time Is Illmatic (2014)

This doc takes us through the concrete world of Queensbridge, NY, home of Hip-Hop’s chosen son Nasir “Nas” Jones. Time is Illmatic chronicles Nas’ journey to create the classic debut album, Illmatiic. Special guests Alicia Keys, Q-Tip, Swizz Beatz, and others express the album’s influence and forever praise why it is a classic.

5. Style Wars (1983)

The literal GrandDad of Hip-Hop docs, Style Wars captures Hip-Hop infant years as a genre existing in the underground New York City world. The film showcases the culture’s almost forgotten element of Graffiti artists and breakdancers as they begin to make their presence known to the city’s above world that views youth as delinquents to society.

6. Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (2019)

In the past, present, and possibly the future, Wu-Tang Clan is arguably the greatest Hip-Hop group ever assembled. Nine different MCs with nine different personalities from Staten Island, NY got a story to tell; and their reality is far richer than fiction.

7. Hip-Hop Evolution (2016)

If aliens were to land on Earth and ask, “What is this Hip-Hop and how did it start?” Hip-Hop Evolution would be the doc to show them.

8. Uprising: Hip-Hop & the LA Riots (2012)

A not-guilty verdict of the white officers caught on tape beating motorist Rodney King, and the killing of Latosha Harlins, set off a rebellion in Los Angeles. Uprising documents Hip-Hop’s connection to the people’s frustrations with a system that always betrays them, and the musical soundtrack created from the events.

9. Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur (2023)

Dear Mama stands miles ahead of any 2pac doc in the past because of the genius way it intertwines with his mother, Afeni’s story. Afeni’s life as a former Black Panther, past battles with the United States government, struggle with poverty, and drug use shaped Tupac, who created art that impacted the world.

advanced divider
advanced divider
Advertisement