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Rap Musicals On Film – Do They Work? Any Stand-outs?

Rap Musicals On Film - Do They Work? Any Stand-outs?

So there I was, sitting in my office flipping through Netflix, as I usually do, looking for something to watch while I work, and I came across this 2008 hip-hop musical titled Rome And Jewel (inspired by Romeo & Juliet), starring Nate Parker as Rome; half of the conflict with this love story is that Juliet is white. 

I didn’t immediately realize it was a musical until I started watching it.

But it got me thinking… we’ve seen a handful of hip-hop musicals over the years – and by musical, I mean films in which songs (or in this case rap music) sung (or spoken) by the characters, are interwoven into the story, sometimes accompanied by dancing, and usually help advance the plot, or for character development. So, hip-hop-themed films don’t count.

How well does rap music work in what we know as traditional musicals? I’m not sure if I’ve seen one yet that I can say I’ve loved; then again, I can’t recall all of them, and I certainly haven’t seen every single one. 

It could also be that we’re just not all that used to seeing film musicals with rap music, given that film musicals have been around for just about as long as sound cinema has existed, but what we know as rap music today is a much younger *invention,* so there’s still an adjusment to be made…??

I’m a late-80s, early-1990s hip-hop head; but the music just sounds so much better to me when I’m blasting it from my stereo speakers, than it does when I’m sitting in front of a screen, watching a 2-hour movie with characters that, from time to time, burst into a rap, accompanied by instrumentals. 

Music videos are essentially short films, but it’s not quite the same thing.

Most recently, we’ve profiled a hip-hop musical titled Caught On Tape, directed by Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones, starring Malik YobaCedric The EntertainerVivica A. FoxBokeem Woodbineand David Marciano. Sticky Fingaz has made a couple of these as I recall. Most of you mocked the trailer, so I take it you didn’t care for it. 

It’s embedded below by the way, if you missed it.

But I’d like to know how you guys feel about rap musicals, and what some of your favorites are that you recommend I should watch, because this Rome And Jewel is not working for me at all.

Here’s a trailer for Rome And Jewel (underneath you’ll find a trailer for Caught On Tape):

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