7 Hip Hop Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now
Hip Hop isn’t just another music genre. Hip Hop is culture, it’s a lifestyle, it’s art. Let’s explore the stories and meaning behind all the lyrics, dance moves, and graffiti.
It's hard to deny the significance of the Hip-Hop genre in the music industry today. No matter where you go or what party to attend, you’ll catch the sound of Hip-Hop music. No matter which music charts or rankings, there’s always a Hip-Hop track near the top. Hip-Hop music had gone through multiple transformations from its beginning decades ago. Today, Hip-Hop is mostly being associated with wealth, drugs, money, women, and violence. This sadly covers up the true culture of Hip-Hop and its roots from the younger generations of today.
To show you that Hip Hop is more than just music, Siam2nite have hand-picked for you 7 documentaries about Hip Hop that’ll take you on a culture trip like never before. Aside from Hip Hop music, you’ll get to see the evolution of lifestyle and art within the Hip Hop culture, including the dances and graffiti art we’ve grown accustomed to the Hip Hop culture. Browse through the list we have below and fire up Netflix or YouTube to get started!
Hip-Hop Evolution (Netflix)
Currently in its 4th season (the latest season was released on January 2020), “Hip-Hop Evolution” is a music documentary series that features in-depth, personal interviews with the forefathers of Hip-Hop that will take you on a journey through the decades of evolution and what the early generations of artists and producers had gone through to become what it is today. You’ll have a deeper understanding of Hip-Hop culture as well as insights on the business behind it. Also, the documentary features big names in Hip-Hop like Ice-T, N.W.A, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G, Mos Def, Lil Kim, Rakim, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Kanye West, and many more. Things can get intense, but you won’t be able to peel your eyes off once you’ve started.
Directed by Sacha Jenkins, an American TV producer and a chronicler of Hip-Hop culture, Rapture is a documentary series that takes you for a ride into the lives of 8 Hip-Hop stars including Logic, Nas, G-Eazy, 2 Chainz, Dave East, Rapsody, A boogie with da Hoodie, and Just Blaze. Each episode will take a shot at different topics from their musical influences, lives as celebrities, as well as in-depth interviews that'll show the side of these artists that you've never seen before.
Wreckin Shop: Live from Brooklyn (YouTube)
A documentary from the early '90s that features top dance crews from New York and several big-name Hip-Hop dancers from that era including Mop Top Crew (Buddha Stretch, Peter Paul, Caleaf, Henry Link, E-Joe) and Misfitss (Rubberband, Marquest, Kito, Peek A Boo, Prancer). The 26-minute film was first released in 1992 and talks about the evolution of Hip-Hop dance styles and highlights the sleek “New Style” (short for New York Style) dance moves of that time.
Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (YouTube)
Freestyle rap is considered one of the major elements in Hip-Hop culture. It’s the art of improvisation and a test that not even the best rappers can overcome easily. “Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme” took over 7 years to film and is a critically acclaimed documentary with multiple accolades from international film festivals. The film aimed at large record labels that, at the time, had negative views toward Hip-Hop and Rap music. The film also tells a story about the origins of freestyle rapping and the rap culture through the eyes and minds of legends like Mos Def and Notorious B.I.G.
Big Fun in The Big Town (YouTube)
In contrast to our previous mention, this Dutch documentary only took 8 days to film. The crew flew to New York City, the United States to film the live Hip-Hop shows including live DJs, turntabling, beatboxing, and rapping on the streets of Harlem. Several artists were also featured in the film including Run–D.M.C., Doug E. Fresh, Grandmaster Flash as well as LL Cool J who was still living in his grandmother’s house then. The original reception of the film in 1986 was so great that it had to be re-released multiple times.
J. Dilla: Still Shining (YouTube)
This documentary was directed by Brian 'B. Kyle' Atkins and was initially released in 2004. The film is a semi-biopic of James Dewitt Yancey or better known as “J.Dilla” or “Jay Dee”, a producer and rapper who emerged in the mid-1990’s underground Hip-Hop scene and is considered by some as the “godfather of lo-fi Hip-Hop.” J.Dilla was a man behind the success of several artists including A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, and Common. The 39-minute film will bring you closer to J.Dilla than ever through the eyes of his peers, friends, and family.
Style Wars (YouTube)
Considered one of the classic societies and culture films of all time, “Style Wars" brings to light the world of graffiti art in New York City during the early '80s. Today, graffiti art is a common sight in New York City had undoubtedly become an integral character of the metropolis. This documentary will bring us back to where it all began, the conflict between New Yorkers and graffiti artists as well as the topic of racism.