As we approach 50 years of Hip Hop, there is certainly no shortage of films and documentaries that either highlight the history of the genre or incorporate the culture. And while there is no way to encompass the impact Hip Hop has had on films in one list, here are a few suggestions to add to your queue. And to make the list even more Hip Hop-oriented, some of the list is based on recommendations given to us from Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC and Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Brothers, among others.

Wild Style

Who suggested it:

Grandmaster Caz, Cold Crush Brothers @grandmastercaz

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Run DMC @kingdmc 

Kay Love, artist @kaylovebx

Filmed in the Bronx and hailed as the first Hip Hop movie, “Wild Style” tells the story of a graffiti artist named Shy Zoro who is commissioned to paint a backdrop for a hip-hop concert. The movie encompasses all of the elements of Hip Hop—emceeing, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti. For most Hip Hop lovers, Wild Style is considered the G.O.A.T. of Hip Hop films and features legends like Busy Bee Starski, Fab Five Freddy, the Cold Crush Brothers and Grandmaster Flash. Watch it here.

Style Wars: 

Who suggested it:

Andre Trenier, artist @andre.trenier 

First aired on PBS, this infamous documentary chronicles the beginnings of Hip Hop culture. Focusing heavily on b-boying and graffiti in New York City in the 70s and 80s, it gives the unique perspective of graffiti artists, the institutions that worked hard to prevent the creative expression, and well known artists who understood both perspectives. It also features infamous breakdancers like Crazy Legs, Mr. Freeze, and Frosty Freeze. Watch it here.

Beat Street

Who suggested it:

Kay Love, artist @kaylovebx

Andre Trenier, artist @andre.trenier

“Beat Street” incorporates different elements of Hip Hop to tell the story of an aspiring DJ from the South Bronx, his best friend who is a promoter, and his little brother who is part of a breakdancing crew. The movie features such legends as Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five, Rock Steady Crew, and DJ Kool Herc. Watch it here.

Starting from Nothing: The Art of Rap

Who suggested it:

Grandmaster Caz, Cold Crush Brothers @grandmastercaz

Directed by Ice-T, this documentary focuses on the craft of emceeing. The film highlights the history of rap and features interviews with such talent as Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem and more. There is even an official soundtrack to the film that features seven freestyles that were performed in the film. Watch it here.

Hip-Hop Evolution

Who suggested it:

Grandmaster Caz, Cold Crush Brothers @grandmastercaz

This one isn’t a film, but a series on Netflix hosted by MC and journalist Shad Kabango. The four-part series chronicles the birth of Hip Hop and features interviews with legends like Kurtis Blow, DJ Kool Herc, and LL Cool J. The series won the 2016 Peabody Award. Watch it here

Roxanne Roxanne

You can’t have a Hip Hop round up without paying homage to the female pioneers who paved the way as well. “Roxanne Roxanne” tells the story of Roxanne Shante, one of the first female solo rappers. One of the most fierce battle emcees coming out of Queens, the film highlights the battles she had to overcome in both her personal life and trying to make it in a predominantly male industry. Watch it here.

Hustle & Flow

Who suggested it: 

Alfredo Angueira , co-owner of hip-hop-themed restaurant Beatstro @Beatstronyc

This 2005 movie tells the story of a Memphis pimp named DJay who turns his life around thanks to Hip Hop. Viewers follow along as DJay leaves his old life behind and follows his dreams to become a rapper. While fictional, much of the movie is based on writer/director Craig Brewer’s lived experiences. Watch it here.

Epicenter faves:

Straight Outta Compton

This biopic tells the story of rap group N.W.A and how these young men used their experiences growing up in the streets of Compton to revolutionize hip-hop. Watch it here.

8 Mile

Using some elements of his actual life, Eminem plays a young aspiring rapper from Detroit trying to make it in the world of hip-hop as a white artist. Watch it here.

Brown Sugar

A real Hip Hop love story, this 2002 film incorporates the genre in several ways. The main characters both have careers in the industry and share a mutual love for Hip Hop. Additionally, the movie gives an insight into the music industry. Of course, the movie’s soundtrack also features both Hip Hop and R&B music. Watch it here.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Another film with autobiographical elements, this film follows Marcus (50 cent) and his journey from dealing drugs to following his passion of rap music. Watch it here.


A breakdancing-themed musical about a struggling jazz dancer who meets two breakdancers. 


A story about four friends growing up in Harlem dealing with harassment from the police and gangs. Starring Tupac Shakur, this one is a classic. Watch it here.

House Party

This 1990 comedy about a house party features Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin of the hip-hop group Kid ‘n Play. Watch it here.

Krush Groove

Based on the story of Def Jam Records, artists like Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C join a new hip-hop label called Krush Groove. Watch it here.

Nicole Perrino is the founder of, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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