The 5 Rap Biopics to Get You up to Speed


A real crime TV series about Tupac & Biggie, and five rap biopics to get you up to speed.

As if having Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me dropping in cinemas this June wasn’t enough for old school rap and hip-hop fans to get pumped about, USA TV this week confirmed the line-up to star in true crime series Unsolved: The Murders of Biggie and Tupac.

The pilot is currently in production of the based-on-true-events drama, which tells the story of the pair’s rivalry and their respective deaths six months apart (which remain unsolved 20 years later). It’ll focus on the experiences of LAPD detective Greg Kading—played by Fergie’s husband Josh Duhamel—who worked on both cases.

Pac was shot and killed in Las Vegas in 1996 after a Mike Tyson fight while riding shotgun in Suge Knight’s car, in what was a calculated drive-by shooting. Just six months later, Biggie met the same fate near the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in West Hollywood.

Playing Pac is Marc Rose, the same lad who starred as the self-described thug poet in Straight Outta Compton. While a new face in Wavyy Jonez will take on the role of 24-year-old Biggie, who died with just one album to his name. Both had posthumous albums released within months of their deaths.

Also repped in the pilot will be Diddy and Knight, plus the rappers’ respective partners and family members.

But as we await the series and All Eyez On Me, here are some epic biopics on the history of hip-hop to get you back up to speed with all things 1990s tunes.

Straight Outta Compton

Were the Oscars based on public opinion, this N.W.A biopic would have taken home gold in 2015, such was the response from audiences and critics alike. It’s still 87 per cent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, evidence that you don’t need to be a rap fan to enjoy a story that captured Los Angeles, racism, class tensions and political issues that gave birth to gangster rap in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Notorious

This Biggie biopic dropped in 2009 to little fanfare and probably deserves a revisit and given the same treatment SOC received. The story’s compelling, but from a cinematic point of view it doesn’t quite come off dark or real enough. It’s a little popcorn given the subject matter. There’s a heavy focus on his relationship with Pac, suggesting the rivalry was caused by hanger-oners and Big had nothing by love for him, meaning it’ll be interesting to see how All Eyez On Me handles the conflict.

CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story

This isn’t a well-known biopic on account of it being a VH1 television movie. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable—if not cartoony—and informative look into the forming of TLC as a manufactured girl group that went on to beat down the door for women’s rap/R&B. Complete with narration, it tells the story of the three women overcoming massive hurdles and shonky management to become one of the biggest groups in the world.

Krush Groove

The film that started it all and is celebrated daily on LA radio, Krush Groove is a somewhat fictional retelling of the early days of Def Jam Recordings and its captain, Russell Simmons. It starts off with the label signing Run-D.M.C before being forced to borrow money from loan sharks to distribute what would become a hit record. Better yet, there’s a ton of cameos from the Run crew, the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, to name but a few. It’s a low budget 80s movie, so the quality is laughable at times. But the tunes are sick and given it preceded gangster rap, it’s much lighter than any of the above.

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