HipHop Documentaries

by They-Call-Me-Steve | created - 09 Sep 2014 | updated - 18 May 2018 | Public

Documentaries about HipHop culture based on any or all of its four elements (MC, DJ, BBoy, Graffiti), bio docs highlighting prominent HipHop artists, in some cases docs that are more music business focused, and in some noteworthy cases I included concert videos of sorts, but sometimes it's a judgement call. Currently this list is a work in progress. I'm trying to include any and all HipHop documentaries good bad and ugly, so if I missed one, please feel free to let me know.

While I may be a fan of many of these, and often might include my own personal review or footnotes, this is not a "best of" list of any kind, and I don't claim it to be 100% definitive in any way.

Chronological order, however, I did separate titles with poster art on IMDB (top) and titles without (bottom), mainly for aesthetic reasons ...

Finally, when compiling this list I realized there is a very large number of Tupac documentaries, some good some not so good, some down right exploitative. While this list may seem incomplete if I don't include all of them, I opted instead to include only the highlights (again, aesthetic reasons) and make a second list dedicated to all those Tupac docs - titled 'Pacumentaries' - found rightchere ... [link]http://www.imdb.com/list/ls077534289/[/link]

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1. Style Wars (1983 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 69 min | Documentary, Music

A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and early '80s, specifically focusing on graffiti art and breakdancing.

Director: Tony Silver | Stars: Demon, Kase 2, Eric Haze, Spank

Votes: 2,522

4. Rapmania: The Roots of Rap (1990 TV Movie)

PG | 135 min | Documentary, Music

This bi-coastal simulcast concert brought together some of the most influential artists in rap for a one-time-only show of rhyming might. "Rap Mania: A Salute to the 15th Anniversary of Hip... See full summary »

Stars: Debbie Allen, Irene Cara, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Afrika Bambaataa

Votes: 8 | Gross: $2.40M

5. N.W.A.: Efil4zaggin - The Only Home Video (1992 Video)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary, Music

Add a Plot

Director: Mark Gerard | Stars: The D.O.C., DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E

Votes: 54

6. The Show (1995)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Music

A documentary about the culture of hip-hop. Through interviews with some of hip-hops biggest names, the film makers attempt to find out why it has become so popular.

Director: Brian Robbins | Stars: Craig Mack, Dr. Dre, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow

Votes: 321 | Gross: $2.70M

7. Rhyme & Reason (1997)

R | 90 min | Documentary, Music

A study in the world of hip-hop, done mostly with interviews, in order to see why it is as popular as it is today and what the future holds.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: B-Real, Kurtis Blow, Da Brat, Chuck D

Votes: 756 | Gross: $1.59M

8. Tupac Shakur: Thug Immortal (1997 Video)

TV-MA | 86 min | Documentary, Music

Exclusive pieces of footage featuring Tupac Shakur are shown in this documentary.

Stars: Tupac Shakur, Marion 'Suge' Knight

Votes: 116

9. Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary, Music

63 Metascore

A documentary about freestyling--the improvised, on-the-spot rhymes that demonstrate the skills of hip-hop MCs.

Director: Kevin Fitzgerald | Stars: Chali 2na, Muhammad Ali, Planet Asia, Bahamadia

Votes: 504 | Gross: $0.01M

10. Backstage (2000)

R | 86 min | Documentary

29 Metascore

If you ever wanted to know what really goes on backstage, this is the definitive inside look - uncut and uncensored. Complete with on-stage performances you'll see an intimate view of what ... See full summary »

Director: Chris Fiore | Stars: Jay-Z, DMX, Method Man, Redman

Votes: 298 | Gross: $1.18M

11. Scratch (2001)

R | 92 min | Documentary, Music

77 Metascore

The story of the hip-hop DJ from the birth of hip-hop to the invention of scratching and "beat-juggling" vinyl, to the more recent "turntablism" movement. Underdogs and virtuosos who have radically changed the way we hear and create music.

Director: Doug Pray | Stars: Chali 2na, Marc 7, Afra, Carlos Aguilar

Votes: 2,641

12. Welcome to Death Row (2001 Video)

Unrated | 104 min | Documentary, Music

The true story of the rise and fall of Death Row Records.

Directors: S. Leigh Savidge, Jeff Scheftel | Stars: Frank Alexander, Sam Gideon Anson, William J. Bennett, Lamont Blumfield

Votes: 662

13. HipHop Story: Tha Movie (2001 Video)

90 min | Documentary

Various hip-hop artist think back and talk about the ghetto life, PAC shakur and there favorite occupations. Also a featured live performance.

Director: Sal Martino | Stars: DMX, KRS-One, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur

Votes: 20

14. The Freshest Kids (2002 Video)

Not Rated | 94 min | Documentary

From the Boogie Down Bronx and beyond, the history of the B-Boy.

Director: Israel | Stars: Afrika Bambaataa, Yasiin Bey, Crazy Legs, Fab 5 Freddy

Votes: 339

15. Biggie and Tupac (2002)

R | 108 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

63 Metascore

Documentary on the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls and the East Coast/West Coast, hip-hop/rap rivalry that culminated in late 1996 and early 1997.

Director: Nick Broomfield | Stars: The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Nick Broomfield, Russell Poole

Votes: 4,410 | Gross: $0.09M

17. Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel (2002)

92 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

Documentary examining the politics, music, and life of Tupac Shakur.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: Anthony 'Treach' Criss, Davey D, Michael Eric Dyson, Chrystall Friedemann

Votes: 999

18. Through the Years of Hip Hop, Vol. 1: Graffiti (2002 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary, History, Music

A four-part documentary series entitled "The Architects." The story is told chronologically and right from the mouths of the greats. Learn how these young gifted pioneers constructed an ... See full summary »

Directors: Steve Kahn, Peter Lauer, Marty Thomas, Pam Thomas | Stars: Charlie Ahearn, Rob Base, Biz Markie, Irwin Corey

Votes: 9

19. Break Ya Neck with Busta Rhymes (2002 Video)

90 min | Documentary

In 1991 the world was introduced to Brooklyn's own Trevor Smith.

Director: Ray Newman | Stars: Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Dr. Dre, CeeLo Green, Ludacris

Votes: 7

20. Tha Westside (2002 Video)

Documentary

West Coast Rap has become the dominant form of music in America. It has grown from the mean streets of Compton, South Central, and Long Beach to the main streets of middle America. "Tha ... See full summary »

Director: Todd Williams | Stars: Crooked I, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, Dr. Dre

Votes: 65

21. Beef (2003)

R | 103 min | Documentary

A documentary on the evolution of MC battles from verbal one-upmanship to street warfare.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: Ving Rhames, 50 Cent, Kevin Anderson, B-Real

Votes: 904

22. The Revenge of the Robots (2003 Video)

Not Rated | 58 min | Documentary, Music

Add a Plot

Directors: Jason Goldwach, Amaechi Uzoigwe | Stars: El-P, Mr. Lif, RJD2

23. Tupac: Resurrection (2003)

R | 112 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

66 Metascore

Home movies, photographs, and recited poetry illustrate the life of Tupac Shakur, one of the most beloved, revolutionary, and volatile hip-hop M.Cs. of all time.

Director: Lauren Lazin | Stars: Tupac Shakur, Rappin' 4-Tay, Conrad Bain, Bill Bellamy

Votes: 8,766 | Gross: $7.71M

25. Soundz of Spirit (2003)

Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary

Exploring the creative process is recognizing the importance of the journey.

Director: Joslyn Rose Lyons | Stars: Aceyalone, Planet Asia, André Benjamin, Rafael Casal

Votes: 9

26. Queens of Hip Hop (2003 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

Although the rap scene has been ruled by men for 20 years, this documentary shows how and which women are making big moves in the industry. See how Salt "N" Pepa, Lady Luck, Rah Digga and ... See full summary »

Directors: Danilla Perkins, Dandaly Prekins | Stars: Rah Digga, Salt-N-Pepa

27. 5 Sides of a Coin (2003)

TV-PG | 70 min | Documentary, Music

"5 Sides of a Coin" is a comprehensive overview of the worldwide cultural movement of Hip-Hop.

Director: Paul Kell | Stars: A-Trak, Afrika Bambaataa, The Beat Junkies, The Beatnuts

Votes: 86

28. Paper Chasers (2003)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Music

Paper Chasers is a feature length documentary about the impact of hip hop entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses in music, film, fashion, TV, print media, and now the Internet. ... See full summary »

Director: Maxie Collier | Stars: Chuck Brown, James Brown, Corey Browne, Greg Carter

Votes: 37

29. Fade to Black (2004)

R | 109 min | Documentary

59 Metascore

Filmed during his "Black Album" era, Jay-Z looks back on his career as one of rap music's most successful emcees and entrepreneurs.

Directors: Patrick Paulson, Michael John Warren | Stars: Jay-Z, Rick Rubin, Missy Elliott, Fonzworth Bentley

Votes: 918 | Gross: $0.73M

31. Beef II (2004 Video)

R | 85 min | Documentary

BEEF 2 exposes the business of hip hop battles.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: Keith David, 50 Cent, B-Real, Bizarre

Votes: 472

32. Eminem AKA (2004 Video)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

The story of rap superstar Eminem and his rise to fame, as told through interviews with family and friends.

Director: Mike Corbera | Stars: Eminem, Anthony 'Treach' Criss, Marc Kempf, Debbie Mathers

Votes: 294

33. Mary J. Blige: Queen of Hip Hop Soul (2004 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

The undisputed Queen Of Hip-Hop / Soul Mary J Blige is a true rags-to-riches phenomenon. Brought up in the rough and tumble projects of the Bronx, New York, Mary, used her unique vocal ... See full summary »

Director: Ray Newman | Star: Mary J. Blige

Votes: 8

34. The MC: Why We Do It (2005 Video)

R | 77 min | Documentary, Music

"The MC: Why We Do It" explores the art of the MC from the unique point of view of todays top rap artists.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: KRS-One, 50 Cent, Common, Ghostface Killah

Votes: 82

35. Just for Kicks (2005)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

An in-depth examination of the culture and fashion of the sneaker, from its creation as athletic wear to its place as a cornerstone in hip-hop fashion.

Directors: Thibaut de Longeville, Lisa Leone | Stars: Bill Adler, Damon Dash, Doze, Missy Elliott

Votes: 428

36. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

84 Metascore

A mix of Dave Chappelle's sketch comedy and musical interludes, inspired in part by the 1973 documentary Wattstax.

Director: Michel Gondry | Stars: Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu

Votes: 8,581 | Gross: $11.69M

37. Letter to the President (2005 Video)

R | 90 min | Documentary, Music

Narrated By Snoop Dogg- Letter To the President is a feature documentary that showcases the close-knit ties between the Hip Hop Music community and America's social and political policy in the last 30 years.

Director: Thomas Gibson | Stars: Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Aesop Rock, Mario Africa

Votes: 73

38. The Art of 16 Bars: Get Ya' Bars Up (2005 Video)

R | 80 min | Documentary

Learn from the biggest MCs exactly how they achieved success. They share their approach to live performances and how they put together a demo tape, got signed and dealt with labels as well as their knowledge about how the industry works.

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: Barry Bergman, David Diaz, Loco Gringo, Jadakiss

Votes: 106

39. Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge (2005)

115 min | Documentary

An in-depth look at the life of the hip-hop MC known as Tragedy Khadafi, aka Intelligent Hoodlum, who hails from the Queensbridge housing project in New York City.

Director: Booker Sim | Stars: Tragedy Khadafi, Capone, Havoc, Uncle La

Votes: 31

40. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation - The First London Invasion Tour 1987 (2005 Video)

60 min | Documentary, Music

Check out and follow Public Enemy on their very first tour in the UK, 1987. PE stepped into this world with plenty to say. Featuring vintage interviews and footage, plus the live ... See full summary »

Stars: Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X, Professor Griff

Votes: 17

41. Scene Not Heard (2005)

Not Rated | 45 min | Documentary

Philadelphia is often referred to as the mecca for American soul music, however its contributions to hip-hop have been overlooked despite its mass proliferation of artists, many of whom ... See full summary »

Director: Maori Karmael Holmes | Stars: Lady B, Bahamadia, Ms. Jade, Sheena Lester

42. Kanye West: Unauthorized (2005 Video)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

The story of Kanye West will inspire and entertain you. Witness how this Chicago native made his mark in Hip Hop, in just a few short years. He has produced for Jay-Z, Nas, DMX, Brandy, Alicia Keyes...

Director: Ray Newman | Star: Kanye West

Votes: 7

43. Beef III (2005 Video)

R | 84 min | Documentary

Respect...In hip-hop it's the name of the game. Some rappers will do anything to get it, even starting a Beef with another rapper or crew...and that can lead to raw, brutal conflict in the ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Spirer | Stars: 50 Cent, Ali, Big B, David Banner

Votes: 388

44. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (2006)

PG-13 | 61 min | Documentary, Music

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes provides a riveting examination of manhood, sexism, and homophobia in hip-hop culture.

Director: Byron Hurt | Stars: Carmen Ashurst-Watson, Yasiin Bey, Chuck D, William Jelani Cobb

Votes: 264

45. Rock the Bells (2006)

Not Rated | 103 min | Documentary, Music

70 Metascore

An inside look at what it took to bring the Wu-Tang Clan together for their final performance at the Rock the Bells Hip-Hop festival.

Directors: Denis Henry Hennelly, Casey Suchan | Stars: Chali 2na, D.J. Abilities, Babu, Jerome Baldwin

Votes: 335

46. Pick Up the Mic (2006)

95 min | Documentary

8.2