Regrettably Reconsidering The Hip-Hop Cinema Canon…

When we were here discussing the definitive list of the 25 greatest movies in Hip-Hop I summarily dismissed ‘New Jack City’ from the outset. My memory of the movie was that it was farcical and written far to melodramatically to warrant a space in the top 25. Maybe I was hating on ‘New Jack City’ because it doesn’t resonate with me like the ‘King Of New York’ did or even ‘Deep Cover’ for that matter. With all of you XXL Mag Dot Commenters screaming bloody murder over the omission of ‘New Jack City’ I decided to screen the film again. Mind you this would be the second time I have watched this film since it’s premiere in 199-whatever. To balance my opinions I decided to re-screen ‘King Of New York’ and ‘Deep Cover’ as well. Some of you might be surprised with my findings…
New Jack City – The film opens with Wesley Snipes and Bill Nunn dangling a man off the Queensboro Bridge. They subsequently drop dude amidst the screams of a lady presumably his wife. Then we have an action sequence as Chris Rock tries to elude Ice-T after a setup drug bust. This movie is probably Chris Rock’s best acting performance evar. Ice-T uses this movie to parlay a career as a hardboiled NYC detective on television. Wesley Snipes over the top portrayal of Nino Brown is both comical and serious. He stays in character throughout the film as a malevolent power hungry druglord with no conscience and no cares other than making money. The film has a nice flow and there are so many memorable lines (that I had forgotten) that I realized after the viewing of this film that maybe I had made a mistake. Thus ‘New Jack City’ should be immediately reinstated to the 25 greatest Hip-Hop films of all time. For those of you scoring at home, kindly remove ‘Love Jones’ from your list since that shit was about poetry and we all know that poetry isn’t really Hip-Hop.
The King Of New York – True story is that Christopher Walken was filming some shit in East New York, Brooklyn and when the neighborhood locals found out they surrounded his trailer. Everyone wanted to kiss the ring of Frank White. Did these people understand that was only a role in a movie? Fantasy equals reality in Hip-Hop and whether or not these folks knew his name was Chris Walken and not Frank White the point is that there is a surreal devotion in Hip-Hop circles to this film. I admit to have been on that Kool-Aid until my recent screening of the film. ‘King Of New York’ isn’t that good of a movie. It will still remain in the top 25 list but I will have to replace this film with either ‘Juice’ or ‘Menace II Society’ as the G.O.A.T. Hip-Hop film. The acting in ‘King Of New York’ is forced at times and somewhat cartoonish. There is one scene that has a car chase where hundreds of bullets are exchanged and nothing gets shot. With the evidence of the Sean Bell murder its totally plausible for the NYPD to squeeze off hundreds of rounds, but at the end of the day something is getting killed up in that piece.
Deep Cover – There’s a reason why ‘Deep Cover’ didn’t make the list in the first place. This shit is retarded. Larry Fishburne becomes a drug kingpin all by himself. Get the fuck outta here! The one thing that this movie might have been a harbinger for is the return of skinny jeans on men, but that’s it.

So with that I formally admit to being wrong with my assessment of ‘New Jack City’ and ‘The King Of New York’. This weekend I will screen ‘Juice’, ‘Boyz N The Hood’ and ‘Menace’ to see which one of these should now become the greatest Hip-Hop movie of all time. Any suggestions?

  • b-ease

    Menance has aged better than Boyz and Juice and my opinion, although Boyz is still a “technically” better movie.

    My vote for #1 would be “Do the Right Thing”.Not only is it Spike’s best work, it also came out during the golden era and is essentially a music video for PE’s “Fight the Power”.Cant get anymoe hiphop than that.

  • b-ease

    New Jack City definetly ranks high up on the unintential comedy scale, but for it still works on pure entertainment level.

    I saw Krush Groove for the first time a couple of months ago. Do not put it on your list.

  • b-ease

    I didnt see your list, but im curious as to how you came up with 25. Some of those movies have got to suck.

    Gotta disagree with your “King of New York” review tho. It’s not deep by any means, but as far as urban crime thrillers go, I dont know if you can do much better. And Fishburne’s Jimmy Jump is the most underrated black “anti-hero” ever.

  • b-ease

    oh yea, good post.

  • HNIC

    “Thus ‘New Jack City’ should be immediately reinstated to the 25 greatest Hip-Hop films of all time. For those of you scoring at home, kindly remove ‘Love Jones’ from your list since that shit was about poetry and we all know that poetry isn’t really Hip-Hop.”

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Done and done… I accept your apology.

  • b-ease

    I’ve never seen it but: is Hoodlum on your list? The hype around it was big when it dropped (well, as big as a movie of this type could be) but I literally heard nothing about it after it was released, and havent since. If you’ve seen it, what is your assesment?

  • ak47

    PAID IN FULL

    definetely check that one out, it should be on the list.

  • ak47

    i just watched boys n the hood the other day for like the 20th time and even tho i like the hell outta juice i would go with bndh

  • ak47

    hoodlum was damn good fishburn played the black gangster roth played meyer lansky and i think garcia played lucky luciano

  • http://www.mikenice.com/ Mike Nice

    Try screening “Style Wars”, “CB-4″ and “Fear Of A Black Hat” when you re-assess your selections, small-fry.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah aka Sin Piffcaso aka The New Millenium Kareem Akbar

    Juice should be the G.O.A.T.

    after all u did say Hip-Hop Movie right?

    u got everything from skippin school to hangin out in da bar during the day, to DJ contests and some of the hottest cameos in a hip-hop film to date, all doin nothin more but hip-hop shit. a typical journey thru the teenage years wit a hip-hop approach.

    Meance was raw, don’t get me wrong, but thats more of a “gangsta” or “banger” oriented cult/craze moreso hip-hop to me. Very powerful movie in its own right, but once again we speakin on the hip-hop aspect.

    Boyz N Da Hood, was the “safe niggaz” Menace 2 Society if you will, lol! Once again very great movie in it’s own right, but this to me has the least of a hip-hop angle to it, socially-relevant, hell yeah, but hip-hop, not so much.

    just my opinion witout overdosing. But Juice wins by default, fuck it!

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    I personally would have to go with Menace. Charles Dutton’s performance it the (“the hunt is on …”) scene was the best acting performance of that whole movie and it was only 2 minutes long, but then again, I guess he was also the only “real” actor at the time (disclaimer: this was Larenz Tate’s first movie role).

    Something about Menace was real and comically fake at the same time. You had a good balance of an “I don’t give a fuck” thug, a moo-slem positive man preaching righteousness, and a not so good/not so bad cat trying to turn his life around.

    The song placement in the movie was just right.

    That’s my effin’ opinion cuz some say it was too fake and others, too violent. They say it’s not a “good look” for blacks in general or the culture.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah aka Sin Piffcaso aka The New Millenium Kareem Akbar

    man fuck dat Menace was as real as it gets, might nto be in ya particular circle, but dat shit is a reflection of someones life, somewhere. And yeah the song placement was right, but more gangsta-edged than hip-hop.

  • Definition

    you need to go watch The Warriors again.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah aka Sin Piffcaso aka The New Millenium Kareem Akbar

    Above The Rim wins this, fuck it!

    at least until..

    Make It Rain: The Adam “Pac Man” Jones story makes it’s way out of a handy-cam near you!!

  • http://xxl q-buro

    DUECE HERE….

  • http://www.jimiizrael.com the izza

    What is your criteria– hip-hop content, hip-hop ethos, rap music soundtrack… your measure seems unclear.

    Best hip-hop film? Two words: Cooley High. Ethos, content, soundtrack…

    BTW… this feels alot like high school social room “FilmClash!” I didn’t invent the methodology, but give props where due, y’heard?

  • http://www.jimiizrael.com the izza

    The criteria fro criticism seems screwed towards content and not message or ethos. You haven’t outlined or defined this “hip-hop cinema” you talk about enough for your opinion to have weight…

    plus, this feels alot like “FilmClash”-lite.

    Best hip-hop film: Cooley High.

  • Grassisgreener

    Billy X.,

    What’s up wit’ you, B! I really like your blog, and most of the time I agree with your critical assessments of works of Hip Hop art, but this is not one of those times. Why are all of your top Hip Hop movies Black gangter or gangbanger flicks. There are other movies that have the same energy and asthetic as Hip Hop. You need to check out: “The Education of Sonny Carson”, “The Legend of Nigga Charley”, “Putney Swope” (get high when you watch this one), “The Spook Who Sat By The Door”, and “Goodbye Uncle Tom” (hard to find, check the net)and you’ll have a better idea what I’m talking about. Oh Yeah! How the fuck could you forget THE WARRIORS. Hip Hop represents a diverse array of sociopolitical, religious and economic perspectives and your list should probably reflect this. One more movie: DO THE MOTHAFUCKIN’ RIGHT THING! Now that’s Hip Hop! One.

  • Tek

    Fear Of A Black Hat wins hands down..

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    Sin Piff, .. Speaking of “Above the Rim” .. ‘Pac was suppose to play Caine in Menace … could you imagine how that woulda turned out?

    Tyrin Turner (Caine) did a helluva job, I can’t imagine whether or not ‘Pac would have made it better or worse …

    Speaking of Tyrin Turner, Billy, did you know that he was an extra in Deep Cover? He’s in the crowd when Fishburne grabs the diesel dude by the pony tail (and he jumps in the car saying “i’ll be back”)

    From Above the Rim to Menace to Deep Cover …

    That’s 6 degrees of separation for yo’ ass!

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah aka Sin Piffcaso aka The New Millenium Kareem Akbar

    Yeah thats an ill line-up, and yeah but Pac still thought he was Bishop and assaulted the directors, props to the Hughes Bros. for still makin dat shit what it is. lmao, Pac was a wild dude.

  • Cuban Link

    Sinistah, this is the second time your shits popped up on my screen playa whats up?

    Anyway, Billy, Im begging you look at BLUE HILL AVENUE again!NO other urban movie have showed what its like to get caught up in that life, and how it happened.PLEASE give that one a chance its one of my favorite movies ever Billy!

    And also, Boyz N the Hood takes the cake for the best ever.It shows struggles and the feeling of losing your friends better than any other movie.Menace 2 Society was great too, Juice was also awesome, but Boyz N the Hood is defiantly the best.

  • Cuban Link

    co-sign about Deep Cover Billy.Larry Fishburne doesnt work as a drug dealer, and never will.

    and Billy, I never saw City of God before your last post, and when I read it I decided to go and see it, and I gotta say that was a great movie.

  • Incilin

    “Fantasy equals reality in Hip-Hop” – That’s a interesting line.

    Nice to see New Jack on the list. And besides some of the better lines have been turned into punchlines (Especailly by 50, who can easy be called the Nino Bronwn of hip hop (Fat Joe onced refered to him as such)) and that scene with Nino in court is one of the best scenes about drugs I’ve ever seen.

    But once again I must say that Traffic ought to be on this list.

    I would say Boyz In the Hood is the best hip hop film.

    And why you gota diss King of NY when its coming in tommorow from Netflix??

  • Cuban Link

    and btw Billy, COLORS should be looked at too!That shit showed the Bloods VS Crips better than anything else

  • http://bgdboom.blogspot.com enigmatik

    Billy X,

    I may be biased having watched Menace II Society every single day during my sophomore year in college and memorizing it line for line, but I’m gonna have to roll with Menance.

    There was a cat who went to my school that played on the bball squad who looked just like Ilena’s cousin, ‘cept he wasn’t getting his ass stomped out. He just stomped out gals. Dude was pretty gully in a domestic violence kinda way.

    But uh, yeah. I’m rollin’ with Menace.

  • A-Town gangsta

    “Training day” #1 hood shit dat dirty cop shit is da truth out in da A.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah aka Sin Piffcaso aka The New Millenium Kareem Akbar

    Cuban Link, ya name always pops up in my box too, lol!

    and Blue Hill Ave was da shit. I aint even see it until 2yrs ago, but i fucks wit it. who else was in dat shit besides dat nigga Allen Payne? dat is his name right?

  • Tyler

    It takes a real man 2 admit ‘dat he is wrong. No homo just sayin. Put my votes in 4 Juice, Menace & Training Day gotta be up in there cuz.
    UrbanRock
    http://www.myspace.com/marcusorealiusmusic
    http://www.myspace.com/marcmaysrockandrollthug

  • http://cajunpeach.typepad.com/ cajun peach

    ha i was forced to watch Blue Hill a few years ago and realized it was way better than i expected. i still say boyz in the hood is #1 with menace at a tight 2nd…where would Blow fit into the mix? not hood enough??

  • nation

    he got game.

  • kaybee

    the g.o.a.t. is most def. baby boy sooo many classic lines like fuck yo fort lol

  • http://xxlmag.com Billy X. Sunday

    This weekend’s movie marathon will be Menace, Juice and Boyz(nullus).

    True story is that Blue Hill Avenue is a whispered classic that I have yet to peep. I’ll holler black after I’ve previewed these joints.

    The Izza,
    Any best of list in Hip-Hop should be considered for everything under the sun from content to character to comedy, it’s like whatever. I think we can come to a point where more than fifty percent of us agree on something. That is our starting point.

    As far as revolutionary blaxploitation shit goes down, my homey Ernie Paniccioli hit me off with the DVD for a film called ‘Streetfight’ which was originally titled ‘Coonskin’. The joint is half live action and half animation, written and directed by this nigga Ralph Bakshi. The film stars Philip Michael Thomas, Barry White and your favorite rapper’s inspiration, Scatman Crothers.

    Like most animated features it tells the truth through jokes. This shit is my all-time hardbody classic. Extremely hard to find because the government banned the shit.

  • Red

    “Fresh” and “Training Day” have to be in everyone’s top 3. Both our hood movies. And the acting in both movies are top notch.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=10863 WritersBlock

    lmao…someone suggested CB4, im praying hes kidding

    Boyz N Da Hood is #1

  • Red

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned “Jason’s Lyric”, “Jackie Brown” or “Sugar Hill”, all top notch movies. Check em out.

  • Cuban Link

    @ Sinistah, lol alright cool about that whole name thing

    and yeah Allen Payne (who was also in New Jack City) was in that, and so was Clarence Williams III.Those were the only 2 well known guys, and even Clarence isnt that well known, but it was still a dope movie.

  • reinhardt

    cough… style wars… cough

  • THHEE

    what about Babershop

  • marley-junior-bong

    new jack city is a classic
    menace to society should be #1 it still bangs hard now .tat tat tat wat the fuck

  • H-LO

    There is nothing special, not to mention great about “juice” – average at it’s best. “Menace” is more or less a hommage to “boyz N da Hood”, but still good and enough own flavor. Boyz stands of course as an highly important movie.

    Nevertheless there are still better movies on the list (City of GoD, Do The Right Thang…)

    And movies like Jackie Brown and Training Day, mentioned in the comments easily surpass Juice and Menace. Not sure what really counts in the list…

    And I find it sheer ignorant to dismiss Scarface from such a list. Like it or Not His influence on and connection to the hip hop lifestyle is unimpechable! There is even a documentary about this.
    And Just listen to the debuts of Biggie-Jay-Z-NaS …

    That’s not to say that it is one of the best movies of all time, but easily good enough for a hiphop list

  • poetry isn’t hip hop??

    all i wanna know is what do i gotta do to become a columnist… because you are DUMB AS HELL!!!! first off hip hop is just poetry over beats! secondly, I think u should change the name of your list to the top 25 movies that ROYALY FUCKED or DISTORTED the VIEWS and ACTIONS of the black community! and to the above SCARFACE was the best movie ever….FOR MAKING ALL THE LIL COLORED KIDS THINK THEY CAN BLOW UP SELLING DRUGS LIKE TONY, UNTOUCHABLE AND IGNORANT!! (think about it)

  • http://www.myspace.com/ghanghiskhan Building#4

    The greatest hiphop movie ever was The Education of Sonny Carson hands down. That movie right there depicted gang life in Brooklyn in the early days plus it was sampled heavy on Ghostface’s Ironman album. Prodigy basically rhymed about the movie thoughout HNIC. But Menace 2 Society gets a close second.

  • http://www.myspace.com/haraguru_grl238 ~L7~

    “The one thing that this movie might have been a harbinger for is the return of skinny jeans on men, but that’s it.”
    hahahaha… funny ish yo.

  • John Brown

    Billy,

    I told you that NJC was better than KONY. Nino Brown can’t be touched by Frank White. Shit, matter fact Nino Brown is the KONY. BTW, forget bout screening the best hip-hop movie of all time. That shit is FRIDAY hands down. Everyone will remember FRIDAY for ever. FRIDAY is a true hip-hop classic.

  • ddubbzz

    Yo…yea fresh was that movie man…got to add that

  • clarknova

    Jesus Christ, Menace to Society all the way. There is really no contest. And if Menace is an homage, it’s an homage to Goodfellas, not frigging Boyz N Da Hood. Or if you’re not gonna give love to Menace, why not Do the Right Thing? Clearly the best movie on the list. And did nobody mention “Fresh?”

  • http://www.xxlmag.com EReal

    Its interesting to me that these are supposed to be “HipHop” movies and automaticly they are all either, drug, gun, or gang movies. If thats the case, behind BXS’s thinking this should be called
    “The 25 Greatest Rap Movies” right?

    1 hunned.

  • CesMoney

    ((((((STYLE WARS)))))))
    A) it’s REAL!! Not scripted.
    B) It’s mad interesting. THere’s villains, heroes, danger, humor, etc.
    C) Kay Slay is in it as a graff writing teen!

    Forget all these “scripted” flicks. This joint is realer than real. And that’s the DOUBLE truth, Ruth!!!

  • RYME

    Boyz N’ Tha Hood has my vote.It is not just a good hip hop movie,but a good movie period.Shit,Singleton was nominated for Best Director at the academy awards.Menace is probably second for me,O Dog,one of the craziest characters in movie history.Juice is a classic,the early 90′s New York feel and soundtrack,I love that shit.King of New York is good too.Fishburne is nuts and Walken,well,a White Boy leading a bunch of Black guys…Thats Gangsta.To round out the top 5,I’ll go with Hoodlum.I love those prohibition gangster flicks and Tim Roth as Dutch Schultz,thats my favourite Bad guy role.

  • Incilin

    Also, I made this point b4 but so wha, how come “Friday” is on the list and not “Half Baked”???

  • TDL

    If that’s your three to chose from then I gotta go with Boyz-N-Tha Hood. That movie just was all around better than the other two. This is the movie that stands the test of time compared to the others.

    For the cat that said Menace was better and it stands the test of time, go watch that movie now and see how horrible the acting was. You will laugh your head off. Menace received a lot of attention merely because of it’s shock value based on O’Dawg, other than that the movie was trash. This movie tried to hard.

    Juice would be 2nd, because of the acting. It seemed more believable than Menace by a long shot.

    Boyz N The Hood
    Juice
    Menance

  • Cuban Link

    to be honest I liked Next Friday more than Friday, but both were hilarious.I mean damn MTV is even making a show about it now.

  • Cuban Link

    “Either they don’t know, don’t show or don’t care what’s going on here”

    -Ice Cube in Boyz N The Hood.

    I dont know how u could think this film isnt the GOAT of hip hop films.

  • http://www.myspace.com/ghanghiskhan Building#4

    Billy,

    How can you exclude The Education of Sonny Carson off this list? The story of the father of the late great X-Clan leader? I know you saw this flick and if you didn’t this should be the 1st movie you watch over the weekend.

  • NOR CAL MUFUCKA!!!!

    Menace II Society is hands down the greatest hip hop movie. #1 The acting is the best out of all the movies you talked about. Boyz is way too dramatic and Juice has Tupac overacting through the whole thing. He was better in Poetic Justice as an actor. But Menace is real as fuck on how they talk and just all the characters motivations seem real. And the music The best west coast gangsta shit ever. The best soundtrack out of any of these movies. Ice Cube Ghetto Bird. Donezo.

  • http://xxlmag.com Billy X. Sunday

    Bldg #4,
    I heard you the first time and I put in a request with my homey that has the flick. I’ll get back to you after I view it.

  • Cuban Link

    what was the movie where Pac was in the diner and all the Ls in the place were 7s so people still think hes alive?

  • Buck You

    When New Jack City first came out, I thought it was a better movie than Boyz N Da Hood, I saw it over and over again back then…but a couple of years ago, I watched it and I thought the movie was kinda corny, like the story line where Nino Brown killed Ice T’s mother years before, the movie kinda lost it ove rthe years…Boyz N Da hood is a much better movie, you can watch it over and over agaain and even now it’s still good, BTW THE SCNENE WHERE CUBA GOODINGS IS FIGHTING THE AIR is the most HILARIOUS PART of a movie ever…it was worth it cause he got the ass…a virgin ass too.

    Anyway top hiphop movie of all time has to be Menace II Society, LArenz Tate gave a good ass performance.

  • ri067953

    Man, I would say that the #1 spot goes to boy’z in the hood but Juice comes in a close second. Menace II Society was alright but it seemed like an extended music video because of all the rappers in it. Boyz in the Hood captured everything that was going on in L.A. at the time. I think that it was John Singleton’s masterpiece. None of his other films have been that good. Plus the soundtrack was banging too.

  • http://onthewritersblock.blogspot.com Stakes Is High

    I’m just curious but what about the movie CB4? I don’t think you could argue that it was a movie that Hip-Hop was influenced by, but the movie was influenced by hip-hop. It’s also comical but I believe somewhat satirical also at how those guys became rap stars. What do you think?

  • Even though it is in French…

    Check out “La Haine”. If you liked “City of God”, you can fucks with this one too…

  • OxyMOroN

    Are we talking “hip-hop” or “hood” movies? If we’re talking about “hip-hop” movies then Juice is better than the aforementioned. Juice is better because it portrayed urban lifestyles and included hip-hop (Omar Epps as a dj), not to mention the most prolific artist of our era (‘Pac). Boyz in the Hood was a good movie-but not hip hop. The only thing hip-hop about that movie was Ice Cube. The same is said for Menace. Great “hood” movie…y’know…a BET BlackBuster…but not the best “hip-hop” movie. The only thing hip hop about this movie was MC-Eiht. When it comes to hip hop movies I think Breakin, Hustle & Flow, 8 Mile, Get Rich or Die Tryin- movies that actually deal with hip hop, not just movies with rappers acting in them. This seems to be more of a “what’s the best-hardcore-gangsta-any nigga can relate to this movie” type of movie. To be honest, Waist Deep and Baby Boy was good hood movies with rapper/r&b cats.

    Billy X, get your criteria right first….then act. Speaking of hip hop movies…did You Got Served make your list????

  • ron burch

    what constitutes a hip hop film besides the time era in which the film is released ???