Will Hip-Hop Be Dominating The Screens?
It’s clear that this year Hip-Hop has been dominating music streaming and it’s also now been scientifically proven that its the most influential genre in popular culture, so after this weekend could it be primed to takeover the screens?
The last golden era of Hip-Hop happened back in the 90’s when a wave of hip-hop inspired cinema accompanied the great music of that time and resulted in the incredible cult success at the movies. Those films may not have generated a large cut at the Box Office that mirrored the audiences that are following the movies and television today but it seems to have inspired this new generation of filmmakers and tv producers. The ’90’s ‘Hip-Hop films’ based around a disenfranchised hip-hop generation were a sombre reminder of the hardships of growing up in the ghetto’s of working class neighbourhoods across the U.S – Boyz In The Hood, Menace To Society, Juice, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and Poetic Justice never made bank but they made an impact.
This years Oscar Ceremony and the omission of Selma from the majority of nominations, brought up the stark reality that Hollywood still had not embraced diversity. No black actor had been among the 20 nominees for the acting awards and it’s become a situation that has increasingly stirred criticism from those who have been advocating diversity in Hollywood.
With the release of Straight Outta Compton having proved its might with the 6th largest August opening weekend in the U.S., the film is now being talked about as a serious Oscar contender after an official Oscar screening on the weekend also drew in a packed house.
The last 2 years have seen the emergence or shall we say the resurgence of Hip-Hop on the screens – both in tv and at the movies. This summer we’ve seen the release of Straight Outta Compton, Dope and expect the much anticipated release of Spike Lee’s new film Chiraq.
Hip-Hop nostalgia seem’s to have returned and it’s certainly running through the decades, from the 70’s byline in the forthcoming The Get Down to an 80’s biopic in Straight Outta Compton, to the 90’s throwbacks in Dope and the present day played out in Empire, Chiraq and Power.
Vogue has also featured a picture spread on the phenomenal success of Empire, and for them it seems the cliches of hip-hop had been ringing in their heads long enough as apparently shown in their opening paragraph “For those of us who lived through that time in the mid-nineties when hip-hop was still dangerously real enough to get you killed at a Vibe-magazine party (Biggie Smalls) or at an intersection in Las Vegas (Tupac), but was also juuust mainstream enough to be featured in Sprite ads, there was something incredibly surreal about watching the BET Awards in late June.” But when 17 Million people tuned in to watch the season finale of ‘Empire’ it simply had become impossible to ignore with audiences growing week on week. After the furore surrounding Girls and it’s brand of new feminism, it was finally time for a new kind of female character – ‘Cookie Lyon’ played by Taraji P.Henson stormed onto the screen to grab the spotlight and represent a completely different and determined kind of woman.
The 2nd season of Starz’s hit drama Power ended this weekend and the third season was renewed straight after the premier of the 2nd season raked in 1.43 million viewers in live ratings. Executive producer and starring cast member 50 Cent and writer Courtney Kemp Agboh collaborated on the tv show that has surprised television executives and become a major success.
The success of TV drama’s like Power and Empire have generated a long awaited demand for black actors and storylines targeted to black audiences. In March 2015, Indiewire reported that a total of 73 new pilots/series tv shows were in development casting black actors either in the lead or in supporting roles of where at least half of the 73 (so far) are lead roles.
FX has apparently ordered a comedy pilot on the Atlanta hip-hop scene from and starring Donald Glover, and after the success of Straight Outta Compton there could be a surge in a whole lot more.
The Get Down is the latest TV show to be generating pre-hype, since Netflix announced the show as a TV first for Baz Luhrmann. The Get Down, is an original series about a group of teenage B-boys from the Bronx in the late ’70s, and has cast some up and coming actors some of who’ve also recently also featured in”Dope'” “Paper Towns” and “Southpaw.” It’s a musical drama set in 1970s New York City, and produced for Netflix with 13 episodes to be released in 2016.
“The Get Down” will focus on 1970s New York City – broken down and beaten up, violent, cash strapped — dying. Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them – except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGBs to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco — told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city, and the world…forever.”
It remains to be seen whether Baz can capture the hearts and minds of this generation of fans, but we could be getting primed for a whole new Hip-Hop season on the screen.