Criterion Channel Celebrates 50 Years of Hip Hop Starting August 1

Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of hip-hop with this mixtape of the cultural phenomenon’s finest movie moments, featuring a stunning line-up of legendary musical figures including A Tribe Called Quest, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, RZA, Nas, Ice Cube, MC Lyte, and DJ Kool Herc. It was Herc who, at a Bronx dance party on August 11, 1973, first used two turntables to create an instrumental “break beat,” an innovation that sent the crowd wild. This modest New York origin story inspired an unparalleled nationwide, then global, explosion encompassing music, dance, public art, fashion, and, eventually, cinema. This dynamic program spotlights the many ways that hip-hop has intersected with film, showcasing raw early documents of the scene’s key players, intimate and informative portraits of musical expertise and technical wizardry, and definitive, star-studded evocations of the culture’s impact.

Ashley Clark, Criterion’s Curatorial Director said, “We’re extremely excited to present this wide-ranging series that highlights the incredibly varied ways that hip-hop has shown up in film since the culture’s birth fifty years ago. From raw, pivotal early documents like Wild Style and Style Wars onward, there’s something for everyone here, whether you’re an expert or a beginner.”

Style Wars, Tony Silver, 1983

Wild Style, Charlie Ahearn, 1983

Beat Street, Stan Lathan, 1984

Krush Groove, Michael Schultz, 1985

Deep Cover, Bill Duke, 1992

Fear of a Black Hat, Rusty Cundieff, 1993

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Jim Jarmusch, 1999

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, Kevin Fitzgerald, 2000

Scratch, Doug Pray, 2001

Paid in Full, Charles Stone III, 2002

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, Michael Rapaport, 2011

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap, Ice-T and Andy Baybutt, 2012

Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer, Charlie Ahearn, 2013


Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee, 1989

Boyz n the Hood, John Singleton, 1991

Poetic Justice, John Singleton, 1993


Belly, Hype Williams, 1998

Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club, Ivan Frank, 2008


Since 1984, the Criterion Collection has been dedicated to publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. No matter the medium-from laserdisc to DVD and Blu-ray to streaming on the Criterion Channel-Criterion has maintained its pioneering commitment to presenting each film as its maker would want it seen, in state-of-the-art restorations with special features designed to encourage repeated watching and deepen the viewer’s appreciation of the art of film.


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