According to Billboard, Hip Hop was the most popular music genre of 2022. It's no wonder we are seeing more and more TV influenced by the #1 genre in the world. It was a good year for programming that depicted the culture and shined a light on some of it's greatest contributors. In the articles are 6 shows and documentaries that highlighted Hip Hop from the past, present and future.
2022 saw the release of several well made documentaries that centered Hip Hop or were Hip Hop adjacent. The biggest contributors were SHOWTIME, Mass Appeal, and Nas collaboration dubbed Hip Hop 50. This collaboration aims to produce Hip Hop centered programming until 2023 which marks what many Hip Hop historians consider to be the 50th anniversary of the culture.
Synopsis – The unique, smoke-filled story of the trailblazing hip-hop group Cypress Hill. With archival footage to show how this musical brotherhood has withstood the test of time.
This documentary is told with great care by legendary photographer Estevan Oriol using his personal archives of photos and video, collected from years as the group’s tour manager and photographer. We also get modern interviews of Cypress Hill as they reflect on their lives and careers as one of the greatest music groups period.
Synopsis – This is the story of Video Music Box, the music video show that aired on WNYC from 1984 to 1996.
This is a lively, feel good documentary about Video Music Box which was created by Ralph McDaniels and Lionel C Martin for NYC public television. The series left an undeniable mark on Hip Hop and introduced many artists to the public that would eventually become greats. Video Music Box's impact was wide reaching for a local creation, it spawned shows that would become national staples like Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City.
Synopsis – A three part docu-series about the notorious Queens, New York Gang. Narrated by Nas, It tells the story straight from the mouth of Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff and Gerald "Prince'' Miller.
What does this have to do with Hip Hop? A lot actually! This story not only covers the gang but it paints a picture of what was going on in NYC in this era with interviews from members of the crew and artists such as LL Cool J, Irv Gotti, Ashanti and more. Their exploits were notorious but they also helped nurture a generation of artists and have inspired and continue to inspire some of the best music in Hip Hop from one of the culture's most impactful cities.
Synopsis – A documentary film directed by Coodie & Chike about the life of American rapper, record producer, and fashion designer Kanye West.
This documentary provides a look at the artist formerly known as Kanye West at a time when he's experiencing success as a producer and is on the verge of making his debut as an artist. It's an interesting period because we see a humble guy just trying to be seen in the beginning, to a Grammy winning artist who's all of a sudden acting like he doesn't have time for the longtime friends who were always by his side supporting him and advocating for him as he tried to shop his music. This documentary is made from a day in the life perspective with the audience right there with Kanye in the studio, at the record label, and with family and friends. We get a glimpse of him working in the studio and dealing with his post car accident medical struggles. I can't think of too many docs that had more access to their subjects. Nowadays as Ye, the artist seems to be in limbo and preaches like he wants to be a savior but continues to act like a villain. If you want the old Kanye, jeen-yuhs this will give you that fix.
Wu Tang: An American Saga took a break for 2022 but it will return in February 2023 for the final season. Its absence was felt but the year didn't disappoint for Hip Hop as we saw a few interesting shows make their debut in 2022.
Synopsis – In a near future London, two young men try to better themselves, but are forced to face the consequences of their actions.
Jungle is a series like no other. It's a neo noir style crime drama that takes place in a futuristic London that looks straight out of Blade Runner. Another interesting aspect is that a large amount of the character dialogue and interactions is done through rap. It's cool as hell to see two character trading bars back and forth as they try to sort out their differences. The cast is bolstered by the use of the UK's finest rappers. UK Hip Hop artists such as Tinie Tempah, Big Narstie, IAMDDB, Jaykae, and more make appearances and help give this series an authentic London street feel, and some entertaining, ingenious bar work!
Network: Amazon Prime
Synopsis – Two estranged high school friends from outside Miami reunite to form an all-female rap group, hoping to make it in the music industry.
This is definitely my overall favorite Hip Hop related series of 2022. Coming from the production house that Issa Rae built, it's no wonder the production value and writing is so good. Rap Sh!t takes you on the journey of Mia (KaMillion/Alja Jackson) and Shawna (Aida Osman) as they juggle work, family, relationship, all while trying to break through in the Hip Hop music industry. Being based in Miami gives it a unique flavor and adds to the atmosphere of their world. An interesting aspect of the show is how social media and its impact on our daily lives is woven into the storytelling. It definitely feels like something that's taking place in the now. In the midst of their day to day struggle we get some of the most feel good Hip Hop moments to grace any kind of screen this year; from an impromptu car freestyle, to hearing your song in the club for the first time. I found myself cheering them on and also feeling disappointed along with them when things didn't work out so well. Fortunately, for us a second season has been ordered by HBO, so Mia and Shawna will return to do some more seducing and scheming!
As for 2022 that's all I got folks! There are some interesting things on the way in 2023 as Hip Hop continues to get a much deserved spotlight. A few other documentaries/TV shows to keep an eye out for in the new year are: May The Lord Watch: The Little Brother Story, Mixtape: The Movie, Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World, Robyn Hood, Paradox Live, Rap Caviar Presents Season 3 of Wu Tang: An American Saga, Season 2 of Rap Sh!t and more that we'll find to explore.