Five hip-hop documentaries on YouTube you need to watch
Still eager to learn more about the history and evolution of hip-hop after watching our top five Netflix documentaries? We got you! This time we listed five absolutely essential and free to watch hip-hop documentaries on YouTube. Only for the real fans.
Text by Jeroen Poelmans
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP
Rap is so much more than just a dude freestyling in the streets. Ice-T, who co-directed this documentary, makes it very clear that writing lyrics is an art. The film features some of the most influential rap artists of all times. From Eminem and Rakim to Snoop Dogg, Raekwon and Dr Dre: they all give you an insight into how they do what they do. It’s a documentary that goes beyond the bling and the stardom. Instead it focusses on what goes on inside the minds of these rap masters.
SKEPTA: TOP BOY
Saviour, activist, dance instructor: you can call him whatever you want but he is without a doubt one of the biggest international stars in the grime genre. His latest album ‘Konnichiwa’ topped the UK charts for weeks, gained him a lot of praise and even got him the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year. Skepta: Top Boy is filled with amazing live footage, backstage talks and even a visit to the White House. A must watch for anyone who’s interested in the UK/US grime scene.
This documentary doesn’t tell the story of the rappers, but of their backbones. DJ's are an indispensable part of the rap scene, which is why director Doug Pray decided to dedicate an entire movie to them. It’s the perfect movie to learn more about the history and development of turntablism, one of the cornerstones of the hip-hop movement. Among the film’s highlights are interviews with Grand Wizard Theodore - who is generally considered to be the inventor of scratching -, DJ Q-Bert and Mix Master Mike.
BEYOND BEATS & RHYMES
Masculinity has always had a prominent role in the rap scene. Gun playing, being tough and invulnerable and objectifying women were - and are - frequent topics in rap songs. 'Beyond Beats & Rhymes' questions this male-dominated world and speaks with experts, activists, journalists and rappers to find out why masculinity, violence, homophobia and sexism are so rooted in hip-hop music.
Forget the disses between Drake and Pusha T or Eminem vs Machine Gun Kelly. Beef covers the epic, legendary rap battles and competitions from the very beginning. From Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee to East Coast vs West Coast, you get to see it all. If you want an even closer look into the beef evolution and want to learn more about less-known confrontations, you can always continue to watch the sequels. But for now, you best start with the original documentary.