On this day in Hip-Hop history, one of the most important films for Hip Hop culture was released in theaters around the globe. The Stan Lathan-directed Beat Street was a film that was able to help Hip Hop culture as a whole breakthrough into the mainstream market and showed a side of the scene that those outside of New York might not have ever heard about.
The plot follows Kenny Kirkland aka DJ Double K, a young man aspiring to be one of New York’s top DJs. Through performances, trials, and tribulations, Kenny is able to grow as a DJ and reach his goal of performing at the famous Roxy club in New York. This film’s narrative of perseverance and struggle to achieve your dreams inspired a generation to grow into many of the artists who have become prominent figures in Hip Hop today.
The film includes many of Hip Hop’s pioneering acts and personalities including Afrika Bambaataa and The Soul Sonic Force, The Treacherous Three(including Kool Moe Dee), the Rock Steady Crew, the New York City Breakers, Doug E. Fresh and many more of the culture’s major influencers of that era.
The film’s commercial success stretched past the boundaries of this country to influence the cultures across the planet. Grossing $16,595,791 in the box office, this film was just as big a hit in Europe as it was in the United States, specifically in Germany. It is said that this film single-handedly sparked the boom of Hip Hop culture in both West Germany in a time when the East and West were still separated. The film also helped the spread of graffiti culture in Across East and West Germany along with the United States.
Mentioned in songs by Jay Electronica, The Notorious B.I.G., AZ, and Ras Kass, it’s obvious that this picture transcended generations to inspire rap music at every tier. If you have not already, make sure you watch and see what for yourself what it was that inspired so many to take this genre that is so loved from an inner-city fad to an international cultural craze.