• The Rap Hippies

Damn, Its Been 20 Years Since Belly

“Make sure you rise above all this madness out here. Mind elevation, f*ck that petty sh*t..”

If you were to ask any person born after 1990, “What’s one of the top hip hop movies of our time?”, I am 100% sure the majority would say Belly.

As we jump back and reflect on the infamous hip-hop movie Belly, we realize how much of an impact it had on the culture. Based in the 1990’s NYC, director Hype Williams, who at the time was just in his 20's does an amazing job at depicting the “street life” of 2 friends, played by DMX and NAS, and their trials and tribulations dealing with drugs, money, death and the lifestyle that many associated with popular rappers of the time.

Let us refresh your memory if you forgot, the movie starts out with a strip club robbery and from there, of course, we enter into a downward spiral of death and deceit as each character tries to maneuver through their own woes. Although this “dope boy” lifestyle can be seen as being the main focus of the movie, Belly was also able to tap into other realms of the young Black lifestyle in the 90’s. That life of trying to make it out of the struggle but in smarter ways. The constant showing of two different lifestyles is what makes the dynamic of this movie so different from other hip hop movies. The individual character development meshing with the interactions they have with one another, play a part in unfolding deeper meanings of this movie. Many are focused on that “get it by any means” mentaily, while others delve into preserving their good conscience instead. Even with this, Belly is still able to bring back the hip hop aspect and subtly tie it to how the characters are trying to almost maintain that “rapper” lifestyle by using original music by DMX, Method Man, Noreaga, Jay-Z, Ja Rule, etc.

Belly is not only considered a classic because of realistic scenes and original music but also by its cinematography. The artistry Hype Williams pulls through was something that wasn’t really seen in youth culture in the 90’s. With his use of slow pans to show depth of a scene, and statement colors, Hype adds an element that is so keen are a videographer, that many people may miss it. This ties the entire story together by giving audiences an “up close and personal” look into the lives of these characters.

And here we are… after 20 years, this movie is still one of the most riveting insights into young, black hip hop culture as a whole. This movie holds so many iconic scenes and characters that stuck with us throughout the years. It's crazy how many people haven't seen Belly, so if you're one of them who hasn't took the time to watch it by now, you've BEEN missing out, this a clear representation of Hip-Hop, and this is a representation of our culture. Get hip!