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Friday (1995)
After transitioning his stardom from music to film via John Singleton-directed dramas like Boy n the Hood and Higher Learning, Ice Cube co-wrote and starred in this timeless comedy. Cube and Chris Tucker become hip hop’s Cheech and Chong playing best friends who find trouble and plenty of adventure on the last day of the week.
Boyz n the Hood (1991)
John Singleton became the youngest director nominated for an Oscar with this groundbreaking, ultra-real drama. Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut star as friends who grow up trying to avoid the pitfalls and tragedies of South Central Los Angeles. The film also gives rise to the hip hop film sub-genre “hood films.”
Juice (1992)
This is the movie that turned Tupac Shakur into a film star. Directed by Ernest Dickerson and starring Omar Epps and Khalil Kain, the film told the story of four friends and how a quest for power and street respect by one of them (Tupac’s character Bishop) upends their lives.
Menace II Society (1993)
Considered the real portrayal of boys in the hood, Menace gave a brutally honest look at the life Black urban youth were maneuvering at the height of the crack epidemic. Starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Larenz Tate and Tyrin Tuner, this hood flick was about a group of friends caught in the criminal ways of gang life and trying to figure out how to escape it.
Set it Off (1996)
A hip hop drama where the ladies get a piece of the action. Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith and Kimberly Elise are four friends who are pushed by financial hardship to begin robbing banks.
House Party (1990)
At the dawn of the decade, rapping duo Kid ‘N Play raised their hip hop profile, making their film debut in this surprise comedy hit. The hip hop pair played friends who, with the help of DJ friend Bilal (played by Martin Lawrence) plan a hip hop-fueled house jam.
Above the Rim (1994)
Tupac, Duane Martin, Marlon Wayans and Leon starred in this basketball drama about talented baller Kyle Watson (Martin), who gets caught between playing for his beloved coach or for a team financed by the neighborhood drug lord (Tupac).
Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996)
The first family of film spoofs, the Wayans, lampooned popular hood films like Menace II Society, Juice, and Boyz n the Hood in this outrageous comedy classic. Ashtray (Shawn Wayans), along with his gun-toting cousin Loc Dog (Marlon Wayans) and pro-Black friend Preach (Chris Spencer) satirically maneuver their dangerous hood in scenes that poke fun at the popular hip hop dramas.
New Jack City (1991)
Director Mario Van Peebles helmed this hip hop music-fueled drama which looked at the crack epidemic Rap icon Ice-T played undercover detective Scotty Appleton, who’s planning to take down Harlem cocaine kingpin Nino Brown (Wesley Snipe) and his Cash Money Crew.
Higher Learning (1995)
Director John Singleton enlists Ice Cube and Busta Rhymes to bring the street realness to this drama, which follows the life paths of three college freshmen. Starring Omar Epps, the cast also included Tyra Banks and Michael Rapaport.
Class Act (1992)
Kid ‘n Play return to the big screen, this time in a hip hop reworking of Mark Twain’s classic story The Prince and the Pauper. Christopher “Kid” Reid plays an academically gifted student who’s turned down by a prestigious college unless he passes gym. Christopher “Play” Martin is an ex-convict who’s paroled on the condition he gets his high school diploma. Some how the two identities are switched and comedy ensues.
Tales From the Hood (1995)
In this horror anthology three gang banging drug dealers go to a funeral parlor to do business with the owner, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). As they walk through the creepy building Simms tells the unsavory trio three stories of horror which affect the gangsta’s in more ways than one.
In Too Deep (1999)
We've never knew hip hop's ladies man, LL Cool J, had the bad boy creds to play a ruthless drug lord. But alas we were blown away by his portrayal of the character "God" in this crime thriller. Omar Epps is equally impressive alongside him as a focused undercover cop who becomes a mole in God's operation and grows hardened the more time he spends on the assignment.
CB4 (1993)
The legendary rise of N.W.A clearly was the inspiration for this satirical hip hop comedy. Playing the role of MC Gusto (an aspiring rapper who steals the name of crime kingpin) comedian Chris Rock transforms his budding rap crew into CB4, the leading purveyors of West Coast gangsta rap who is loved by American youth but scapegoated by an ambitious politician.
Who’s the Man? (1993)
Ted Demme, the creator of Yo! MTV Raps, directed this hip hop thriller comedy starring a cast filled with rap music luminaries. Former Yo! hosts Dr. Dre and Ed Lover, two bumbling barbers-turned-NYC police officers who investigate the possible murder of their mentor. The film features appearances by star rappers like Busta Rhymes, Queen Latifah, Kriss Kross, House of Pain and Ice-T.
Whiteboyz (1999)
Here’s a comedy that explored an untouched topic of gangsta rap: its popularity and influence on white suburban kids. Three white kids from Iowa become so enthralled by the quick cash, fast money and criminal activity depicted in the thuggish rap they love that the three decide to move into Chicago’s Cabrini Green projects and become a drug crew. Uh, bad idea.
Rhyme & Reason (1999)
At a time when hip hop music began outselling country music and became a top contender on the pop charts, this documentary discussed the history of rap music. Interviewed for the doc were rap luminaries like The Notorious B.I.G, Chuck D, Da Brat, Nas, Kriss Kross and Redman.
Fear of Black Hat (1993)
In the vein of the rock mockumentary Spinal Tap, writer/director Rusty Cundieff spoofed the phenomenon of N.W.A and gangsta rap in this satirical flick. Sociologist Nina Blackburn (actress Kasi Lemons) chooses hot rap group N.W.H ( N****s With Hats) for the subject of her thesis about rap as a new form of communication. But all she encounters is the group’s foul language and their beef with another rap crew.
Cool as Ice (1991)
Capitalizing on Vanilla Ice’s pop explosion, director David Kellogg helmed this rap music reworking of the 1953 biker film Wild One. Vanilla Ice plays a nomadic rapper who travels from city to city performing with his crew. That is until one of their bikes breaks down. While in town, Ice falls for a girl.
Posse (1993)
Hip Hop stars Big Daddy Kane and Tone Loc star in this western directed and starring Mario Van Peebles. Former Spanish-American War soldier Jessie Lee (Peebles) leads a crew of former troops to steal gold while in Cuba. Then they return to America where Jessie seeks revenge on the racist who killed his father. The cast included Blair Underwood, Salli Richardson and Billy Zane.

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