​Screengrab from 'Poetic Justice,' Columbia Pictures.
Screengrab from 'Poetic Justice,' Columbia Pictures.

Criterion Channel Celebrates Hip-Hop 50 With Upcoming Film Program

The Criterion Channel has announced that film programming celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop will take place from August 1 to November 1.

The Criterion Channel is bringing Hip-Hop 50 to its archival film slate. From August 1 to November 1, the classic and contemporary cinema streamer will reintroduce films “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.”

On the roster are the first hip-hop motion picture Wild Style, 1983 documentary Style Wars, Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing, 1993 John Singleton drama Poetic Justice, 1998 Hype Williams crime drama Belly, 1999 RZA-composed samurai film Ghost Dog, and more.

“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 50 years ago,” Ashley Clark, the curatorial director for Criterion, said in a statement. “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.”

While Criterion’s lineup includes a host of definitive hip-hop films, there are also overlooked B-list flicks that Okayplayer has honored in the past. Many are on the ad-supported streaming service Tubi, as explained by Pitchforkin January. Hip-hop films have evolved into artist-produced and backed documentaries in recent years, including 2022’s Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby, Wiz Khalifa’s Still Rolling Papers, jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, and Travis Scott’s Look Mom I Can Fly. On the biographical film side, Snoop Dogg announced earlier this year that his biopic will be directed by Allen Hughes.