Watching a documentary can be, and often is, much more engaging and fulfilling than reading a fact sheet. The way that hip-hop has shaped our culture is quite a story to tell, thus making it more than a fitting subject for a documentary to explore.
If you’re looking to dip your toes in exploring its origins, there are more than a hundred documentaries worth watching. That, however, is well beyond the scope of today’s article, so let’s focus on the cream of the crop and briefly mention the top ten.
- Style Wars (1983)
This classic documentary was released in 1983. It explores the story behind graffiti and various urban groups that found themselves in conflict with one another. In it, many deep and personal stories are showcased, including the dream of a 17-year-old teenager who aspires to materialize his desire for fame.
- Welcome to Death Row (2001)
In a rollercoaster of emotions, Welcome to Death Row (2001) lets us in on what happens when a huge rap empire bites the dust. Is the rap industry profitable at all? How does a young artist attain fame in this line of business? Inside is where you will find the answer to that and many other questions. The interviews with big names like Snoop Dogg, Vanilla Ice, and Dr. Dre are the icing on the cake.
- Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel (2002)
Tupac Shakur is the icon legend of hip-hop – that goes without saying. As such, many viewers were pleased to be given an in-depth insight into his early starts. To give a complete picture of what went on during that era, the documentary also features interviews with the likes of Big Syke, Suge Knight, and Snoop Dogg.
- Rock the Bells (2004)
The epic Rock the Bells concert from 2004 will forever remain in our hearts. During that time, Chang Weisberg was trying to reunite the Wu-Tang Clan, and the documentary unveils a great portion of the drama that took place behind the scenes at the time.
- The Carter (2009)
Lil’ Wayne, the star of the show, reveals his passions and goals on an ever-lasting path to worldwide fame. This artist is characterized by a work ethic unlike any other, often finding himself writing rhymes almost on auto-pilot. His life, however, is plagued by a darker side; namely, his frequent use of drugs.
- Tupac: Resurrection (2003)
Having died a tragic death at 25, Tupac still remains one of the most recognizable icons of this art-form. There was plenty of controversy surrounding his death, and this documentary explores more than a fair share of it.
- The Show (1995)
A collage of legends and their views on the world of hip-hop. Inside, you will find many interviews with the legends like Method Man, Craig Mack, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, and others. Through them, it’s easy to get a glimpse into this industry and what’s been going on behind the scenes. The documentary also explores the problem of commercialization and makes the ultimate conclusion that hip-hop, in its purest form, is a product of love and not business alone.
- Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (2012)
Ice-T, the former gangsta rapper, shares his views on the world. How did rap traverse the boundaries of urban and become such a universally recognized cultural phenomenon as it is today? The best way to find out is to ask the practitioners themselves. Big names of modern rap like Kanye West and Eminem share their thoughts on the matter as well.
- Backstage: A Hard Knock Life (2000)
Now here’s something fresh: ever wanted to see what it’s like to go through a lengthy rap tour? The backstage, the groupies… and all the good stuff that comes with it is yours to explore. The documentary also addresses why a certain percentage of the general public views the rap scene in a negative way.
- Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)
Freestyling is an art that separates the professionals from the amateurs. While crafting lyrics in a studio is by no means an easy feat to accomplish, few can stand up to the challenge of being able to come up with them on the spot when the clock is ticking. Did you know that freestyling originates from churches where black pastors gave improvised sermons? The rapper showdowns that followed is an evolution of it.
No matter which one you end up watching, you’re bound to get a fair share of knowledge and entertainment. Unfortunately, some streaming platforms may place geo-restrictions on some content. But do not worry, because there’s a neat trick to bypass that – a VPN.
By using it, you will be able to anonymize your online presence and access regionally-restricted content without any hurdles. You might wonder, are VPNs legal to use? The short answer is yes. Although countries like China and Russia ban these services, they are mostly legal elsewhere. So you can enjoy streaming any of these documentaries without any restrictions.