Style Wars (1983)
I first watched this gem in a Sociology class, go figure huh? That's because everything about this film explains the beginning of hip-hop as a cultural explosion. Airing in 1983 on PBS, the film looks at hip-hop with a particular focus on graffiti and break-dancing.
The interviews with members of the subculture, in addition to public officials such as Mayor Koch, explain to viewers how the hip-hop youth were often seen as criminals and trouble makers. "Style Wars" is an essential film for any hip-hop head, to understand how the movement has evolved over time, and how it will always be looked as a source of profit, one to be commercialized. As we see in one scene, the graffiti artists are invited from subway cars into a museum space-- with galleries and rich folks now speaking about graffiti as an art form, and something they can make another investment in. The film follows taggers and their own personal narratives through the trials and tribulations of law, police, professionalism, and the fear of selling out.