Hip-hop movies, are movies featuring hip hop, whether it be through artists or various elements involving the culture. They can also be movies that have been embraced by the culture. Hip-hop movies cover a wide range of genres and themes, everything from features to documentaries, to concert films. The impact that Hip Hop has had on the film industry is astronomical, especially when you look at the box office numbers.
When you take into account the lifestyles that some rappers, nowadays claim to live – a lot of that mentality started with the life, and story of Tony Montana in Scarface. It’s a cultural iconic piece that rappers for decades have loved to speak on, and emulate. Other than character inspiration, general movie references appear constantly throughout rap music.
Because of its detailed storytelling nature, it could be argued that hip-hop is one the most cinematic genres of all time. The freedom of expression and potential for imagery is essentially limitless. Not to mention, films are a huge sample resource for many producers; hip-hop music has been included on film soundtracks for decades now. Scarface was a monumental classic that shook up hoods across the country when it hit theaters back in the early 80’s.
Scarface in the 80’s was beloved by rappers with an overwhelming devotion, that can safely be called, obsession. It’s so beloved that there is even a documentary about its impact on Hip Hop called, “Scarface: Origins of a Hip Hop Classic.”
In the Documentary, Al Pacino speaks on how Rappers attributed to Scarface’s continued success by saying, “Rappers really get it and they understand it, and that’s a great thing they’ve been very supportive all these years. I think they’ve helped us tremendously.”
[pull_quote_center]Rappers really get it and they understand it, and that’s a great thing they’ve been very supportive all these years. I think they’ve helped us tremendously.[/pull_quote_center]
The thing in my opinion that really initially hooked rappers to the bravado of Tony Montana is the fact that he was the prototypical ghetto American dream. Tony Montana is a guy who went from nothing, and turned it into something big. He had a strong work ethic, and never loss determination to live a better life. He was a dishwasher who overcame obstacles to “live the dream,” even if it was a bit gruesome at times.
He was a ghetto superhero, turbo charged with testosterone, cocaine, and a gun that always seemed to be loaded. Another thing about Scarface that rappers gravitated towards, was Tony Montana’s approach to life and his way of thinking.
Some of his most popular sayings include, “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women” and “All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break them for no one.” (see clip below)
And my personal favorite, “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.” With all the blood and guts that were shed in this film, the underlying message through most of it, and something that Tony Montana would die for, were his belief systems and moral barometer. The things the film stood for like unwavering loyalty for example, is something people were able to instantly gravitate towards.
Still today, it’s a timeless lesson that has helped Scarface still resonate nearly 30 years later. Even though, in the end he does succumb to greed, there’s a moment where the world is his, and that’s an accomplishment everyone, especially rappers can admire.