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What is a hip hop movie? Is it a film that centres around a fictional hip hop artist? Is it a film that features a prominent hip hop star or group? Is it a picture thats paired with a hip hop soundtrack? Is it a documentary about a lionised hip hop musician?

Or, does the ambiguous term define a movie that focuses on the same themes as hip hop music and, in turn, encapsulates the spirit of the genre?

All of the above, we say.

And while hip hop movies arent as common as superhero flicks and sci-fi epics, theres enough out there – and in the works – to keep us going.

So which ones are worth watching, you ask?

Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up all the best hip hop movies below, from Beat Street to A Man Named Scott. Dig in below, and then go sample some more high-quality hip hop over on our dedicated hip hop page.

The Best Hip Hop Movies

  • Wild Style (1982)
  • Beat Street (1984)
  • Breakin (1984)
  • Krush Groove (1985)
  • Tougher Than Leather (1988)
  • Do The Right Thing (1989)
  • House Party (1990)
  • Boyz In The Hood (1991)
  • Juice (1992)
  • Poetic Justice (1993)
  • Above The Rim (1994)
  • Friday (1995)
  • How High (2001)
  • Brown Sugar (2002)
  • 8 Mile (2002)
  • Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006)
  • Let it Shine (2012)
  • Straight Outta Compton (2015)
  • Dope (2015)
  • Blindspotting (2018)
  • Roxanne Roxanne (2018)
  • Everybodys Everything (2019)
  • A Man Named Scott (2021)
  • Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell (2021)

Wild Style (1982)

Our best hip hop movie list kicks off with Wild Style: a film universally recognised as the first hip hop flick.

Fittingly, the movie features the first hip hop artists, including Grandmaster Flash, Rock Steady Crew and Grandmixer DXT, plus it’s set in the birthplace of hip hop, New York City.

As for the plot, it follows the adventures of a Bronx-born graffiti artist who goes by the name of Zoro…

Beat Street (1984)

In 1984, MGM Studios released Beat Street.

The seminal South Bronx-set hip hop flick is a big deal because it was responsible for introducing the music genre to millions of people across the globe.

Today, many OG hip hop fans are still presenting the film to their descendants, presenting them with a window into the early days of hip hop.

Breakin’ (1984)

Breakin’ is another popular hip hop movie released in 1984.

Inspired by a 1983 documentary titled Breakin’ ‘n’ Enterin’, the California-set flick tells the story of a multi-racial dance troupe who shake the stigmas associated with breakdancing and hip hop. 

Krush Groove (1985)

Based on the life of music mogul Russell Simmons, Krush Groove follows a producer who manages the best hip hop talents – including RUN-DMC and Kurtis Blow – at his record label, Krush Groove Records.

Naturally, the soundtrack to the film is remarkable, featuring songs such as LL Cool Js I Cant Live Without My Radio and The Fat Boys’ ‘Dont You Dog Me.

Tougher Than Leather (1988)

Released in 1988 alongside RUN-DMCs album of the same name, Tougher Than Leather sent hip hop fans wild.

There are fight scenes, fast cars, gangsters, gold chains and girls; its quite literally a classic hip hop album brought to life for the silver screen. 

Do The Right Thing (1989)

Spike Lee is inseparable from the early days of hip hop. The directors films – or, as he calls them, joints’ – customarily contain elements of hip hop culture, including hip hop music. 

Lees magnum opus Do The Right Thing – released in the summer of 1989 – confronted racism within a Brooklyn neighbourhood.

10 years after its debut, the Library of Congress decided the film was so remarkable that they added it to the National Film Registry.

House Party (1990)

In 1990, Kid n Play was one of the world's most popular hip hop groups – their look, sound and vibe ushered in a new wave of hip hop artists in the pre-millennial decade who were playful and buoyant.

Its no surprise, then, that New Line Cinema was keen to utilise their popularity by casting them in their comedy hip hop film titled House Party

Boyz In The Hood (1991)

Boyz in the Hood is the favourite film of hundreds of thousands of millennials across the globe; its a film that successfully brings the experience of Black Americans living in the hood – specifically, in Crenshaw. 

Not only does the film include a white-hot soundtrack that features the sounds of 2 Live Crew, Chubb Rock and Comptons Most Wanted (CMW), but it also stars rapper Ice Cube who plays Darrin Doughboy’ Baker.

Juice (1992)

In 1992, the world learnt that Tupac Shakur was a multifaceted talent: he could act just as well as he could rap.

The vehicle for this revelation was Juice, a Harlem-set flick revolving around four African-American friends who aim to gain respect on the streets by demonstrating their power. 

Poetic Justice (1993)

Just one year after Juice debuted, Tupac starred in cult classic Poetic Justice, alongside Janet Jackson.

Within Black communities worldwide, the 1993 hip hop movie – and its R&B/hip hop soundtrack – is considered to be culturally significant, meaning that Poetic Justice is the most famous film to star the late rapper. 

Above The Rim (1994)

The third and final Tupac Shakur to make it to our list of the best hip hop movies is Above The Rim.

The basketball-focused screenplay, adapted from a story by Benny Medina, was written by Barry Michael Cooper: it is the final instalment in the writers Harlem Trilogy

Friday (1995)

Friday is arguably the funniest hip hop movie ever released; and if thats not a reason to watch it, the fact that its one of acclaimed auteur Quentin Tarantinos favourite films certainly is.

Written by rapper-cum-actor Ice Cube and multi-hyphenate DJ Pooh, the film tells the story of two friends who share an action-packed day.

How High (2001)

One of the first hip hop movies of the 21st Century was How High.

Famous for being popular with audiences and unpopular with critics, the comedy picture follows Silas (played by Method Man) and Jamal (played by Redman) who start to see ghosts, including the ghost of Silas’ recently-deceased friend Ivory.

As you would expect, the duos weed-fuelled happenings are accompanied by music by both rappers.

Brown Sugar (2002)

Brown Sugar has made it to our list of the best movies about hip hop because a) its a fantastic rom-com, b) it stars Queen Latifah and c) it reminds us of our youth. 

Fundamentally, it focuses on the relationship between Sidney, the editor and chief of XXL magazine, and Dre, an A&R for Millennium Records.

Interested? Fortunately for you, its currently streaming on Disney+. 

8 Mile (2002)

8 Mile is a hip hop biography movie that needs no introduction.

Set in the mid-1990s, Eminem plays a version of himself named Jimmy B-Rabbit” Smith Jr who fights for his place in hip hop. 

As far as hip hop movies go, 8 Mile is one of the most successful films on both a box office and award front.

Most notably, Eminem, Luis Resto and Jeff Bass won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for their smash hit ‘Lose Yourself’. 

Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006)

In the mid-00s, Dave Chappelle threw a block party in the Clinton Hill neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York, and asked the likes of Kanye West, Mos Def, Common and The Fugees to perform.

With the help of director Michel Gondry and the rest of their team, Chappelle captured footage of the entire event and the footage was combined to form the ultimate hip hop movie. 

Let it Shine (2012)

In 2012, Disney jumped on the hip hop movie bandwagon with Let it Shine.

The feature-length Disney Channel film follows a young rapper named Cyrus, who must use his talent for rap – one hes kept hidden from his friends and family – to battle his cunning best friend and impress the girl of his dreams. 

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

If hip hop biography movies are your thing, multi-award-winning flick Straight Outta Compton is most likely one of your all-time favourites.

The film famously tells the story of gangsta rap group N.W.As humble beginnings in Compton, California.

Both a critical and commercial success, its safe to say that Straight Outta Compton will soon be considered a classic. 

Dope (2015)

Bar Straight Outta ComptonDope should be considered the ne plus ultra of 21st Century hip hop films.

The coming-of-age movie is the result of various creatives close to the hip hop scene working together – including Brown Sugar-director, Rick Famuyiwa; rapper, singer and producer, Pharrell Williams; rapper, songwriter and producer, Sean Combs; and actor and producer, Forest Whitaker.

Roxanne Roxanne (2018)

If Mahershala Ali graces a film, you know its going to be worth watching.

In 2017, the stalwart actor starred in a film celebrating the career of Roxanne Shante.

As one might expect, the film is set in the 1980s when the Queen-borns rapper cemented her name in music history by being one of the flyest women on the hip hop scene

Blindspotting (2018)

Blindspotting is Lionsgates overlooked 2018 comedy-drama thats slowly but surely gaining the recognition it deserves – primarily because Daveed Diggs’ career continues to escalate, and a successful television sequel has caught the attention of millions. 

The award-nominated film pivots around two friends, Collin and Miles, whose relationship with one another gets tested when the former sees a police officer shoot a suspect. 

Everybodys Everything (2019)

True artists understand that theres beauty to be found in sadness. Case in point: Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyans Lil Peep documentary, Everybodys Everything

The movie that boasts a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes provides an honest insight into the life of Gustav Elijah Åhr (aka Little Peep) who famously died of a drug overdose in 2019 at the age of 21. 

A Man Named Scott (2021)

Every hip hop fan has been dying to delve inside of the mind of enigmatic rapper Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi – better known as Kid Cudi – ever since he dropped his 2009 debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day.

Luckily for them, Mescudi worked with Amazon to release his documentary A Man Named Scott in 2021. 

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell (2021)

NetflixBiggie: I Got a Story to Tell is, undoubtedly, the best Biggie-focused film ever created.

The hip hop film documents the life of The Notorious B.I.G. by combining interviews held with his family and friends with rare unfiltered footage of the rapper.

It's safe to say the film is a must-watch for bona fide Biggie disciples. 

Audio Network's Hip Hop Beats

When it comes to hip hop, we have one of the biggest collections for licensing.

Whether you’re looking for tracks for sport or drama, documentaries or ads, our Beats series has you covered. And because we’re all about offering you the best quality original music, we’ve just added 300 additional hip hop tracks to our catalogue.

Our clients are using hip hop and trap instrumental cues to soundtrack everything from funny, awkward situations to sad, emotive moments, and from serious topics to mystery.

From cloud rap to old school instrumentals, tension trap to comedic cuts, we’ve got the perfect hip hop beat for your brief.

To make it even easier to find your ideal track, we’ve created dedicated hip hop playlists:

  • Comedy – Playfully quirky, these are light-hearted beats for comedy or dramedy
  • Upbeat – Bring the party and lift the mood with bright, optimistic hip hop
  • Motivational – Uplifting, determined and confident – inspire with swagger
  • Emotional – Create a reflective mood with emotive hip hop
  • Light Tension – From sneaky and suspicious to all-out suspense, select these tension-building beats
  • Heavy Tension – Need more drama? Choose our horror-ready beats
  • Tasking – Looking for kinetic hip hop? This playlist delivers
  • Energetic – Hip hop to accelerate the pace…
  • Ambient – …Or chill out with minimalist, textured beats
  • Transitions – Dynamic scene openers, bumpers and stings, all with a hip hop flavour

So, whether you’re after trap or 90s, lo-fi, EDM, Jazz or Gangsta, dive into our brand new collection, and find the perfect hip hop for TV, digital content or corporate videos, featuring artists including Skripture, viral superstar Youngr, Jonathan Clark and Matt Goodman.

beat series

Music For Film

If you’ve just taken the time to scroll through the above list of the best hip hop movies of all time, were sure youll agree that music can transform a film.

Fortunately for filmmakers, at Audio Network we have all the tracks they need to elevate their flick – no matter the genre of the production or the musical style theyve set their heart on.

You can discover the newest additions to our catalogue of over 200,000 tracks over on our new releases playlist. 

Rather keep reading about music and film (and all things in between)? Head on over to The Edit: our content feed bursting with inspirational, exciting content.

Need Music for Your Project?

At Audio Network we create original music, of the highest quality, for broadcasters, brands, creators, agencies and music fans everywhere. Through clear and simple licensing, we can offer you a huge variety of the best quality music across every conceivable mood and genre. Find out how we can connect you with the perfect collaborator today by clicking the button below!


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