What’s Good?! I’m back again this week to drop some knowledge on some flicks that transcended the screen and translated into music through Hip Hop. Hip Hop isn’t just music, but through the years has turned into a whole lifestyle and culture. Through that, Hip Hop has influenced a lot in the culture that we live in today and has also taken a lot from popular culture and turned it into music. Artist have taken movies and used them as inspiration for their own work, and throughout history have made them into icons in the Hip Hop industry. From the screen to the studio, let’s get to it.
Mentioning Scarface in a discussion about Hip Hop and movies is like talking about butter and toast. Tony Montana is a character that had it all, money, women, cars, houses, and well money. Basically, Tony Montana represented and still represents the side of Hip Hop that is dedicated to the hustle and all the things that come with it.In a way, Scarface has been like a motivational tool in the Hip Hop starter kit. Artists from Jay-Z to Raekwon have drawn from Scarface for inspiration for their tracks and even sampled soundbites from the film in their works.Remember the days when Cribs was still running on MTV? What was that one movie that every rapper said that you must have in your music collection? Exactly.
Boyz N The Hood
More than anything, Boyz N The Hood was a movie that basically depicted life on the West Coast, more specifically South Central. Back when NWA and Ice T were running around making noise in the Hip Hop industry by what they were saying in their tracks, the thing that was important was that it all was true. L.A. in the early 90′s represented a culture that was mostly dominated by gangster rap, but those who didn’t witness it first hand couldn’t exactly identify with the music and what it represented. When Boyz N The Hood came out, the stories that MC’s were telling in their music was brought to life through Singleton’s film. In 2005, VH1 honored Boyz N The Hood during their Hip Hop Honors awards for it’s influence on Hip Hop and for what it represented for popular culture entirely.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear Shook Ones, I sometimes think about the last scene from this film. This film wasn’t exactly an influence on Hip Hop, but it did show people a side to it that wasn’t faithfully portrayed in other films before it. The gritty and dusty feel of the whole film gave you a sense of the Hip Hop scene in Detroit and brought attention to the spot that Eminem and Proof had come from many years prior. If there is one thing that this movie brought out into the mainstream was attention to the freestyle battle scene. If people weren’t battling before this film, they definitely were after it’s release.
Back when Hip Hop was all about boomboxes, Kangols, Adidas and boom baps, Beat Street was the film that took the B-boy culture and brought it out into the mainstream. Beat Street was a film that mimicked Hip Hop in the most earliest stages of being taken seriously by those that thought Hip Hop was just a short trend. From the language in the film, to the clothes and most importantly the breaking, Beat Street stayed real showing a realistic depiction of that side of the Hip Hop culture. Despite how much hip hop has changed in popular culture, the idea of Beat Street as a film that represents Hip Hop in it’s early stages is forsure a fact.
There isn’t much that can be said about this film that isn’t already obvious. The old-school gangster lifestyle is one thing that Hip Hop truly connects to. With the The Godfather, it’s pretty obvious that many rappers idolize the movie for what it represents about being gangster. Much like Scarface, the movie has been referenced by rapper’s in countless amounts of songs. MC’s like Big L used the main charcter’s name Michael in tracks like “Flamboyant”, and The Firm referenced the film with AZ’s lyrics “Who pull the late, We play for high stakes at gun point / Catch’em and break undress’em tie’em With tape no escape / The Corleone Fettucini Capone Roam in your own zone / Get kidnapped and clapped in your dome We go it sewn….”. Basically, the story of a young gangster who makes it to the top of the mob is something that resonates and connects to the majority of rappers in the game. Question is, which gets referenced more? Scarface or The Godfather?
Rhyme & Reason
This film influenced Hip Hop because, well, it came directly from those who worked in Hip Hop. As a documentary on the industry, Rhyme & Reason basically demonstrated how far Hip Hop has come and what it exactly means in the landscape of world culture as a whole. From people like Kurtis Blow and KRS-ONE to The Fugees and Wu-Tang, the perspective of how Hip Hop as a whole is being perceived by the general public and the reasons why Hip Hop entirely come under controversy from local police to the Supreme Court. In a way, it was like a message from Hip Hop to the rest of the population explaining the side that many believed they knew but never really did.
Spike Lee Joints
Nowadays, Spike Lee joints don’t really mean as much as they meant to back in the day, but no doubt films like Do The Right Thing and School Daze have made impacts on the Hip Hop landscape through the years. At the time when Do The Right Thing came out, the idea of Afrocentric thinking was the popular thought in Hip Hop circles, mainly coming from the East Coast. With groups like A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers and De La Soul at the peak of the popularity, Spike Lee’s films reinforced the idea of keeping that strong identity of afrocentricity and living a positive lifestyle. The idea of afrocentric thinking has somewhat died out in hip hop, but the influences during this era of film and hip hop still influence at lot of rappers today.