“Boyz N The Hood” was a movie was written and directed by newly USC graduated John Singleton and starred Cuba Gooding Jr, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Ice Cube. The movie explored the dangerous of living in South Central Los Angeles due to poverty and gang violence. The movie was released 25 years ago and is a certified classic!
On a personal note, when I went to see this movie, I was stopped at the movie entrance by 2 LAPD officers and was told to “assume the position”. I put my popcorn and soda down and was frisked and later let in the movie theater. Surreal!
The movie is about 4 childhood friends and the different paths they take in their lives. The main character is based on Cuba Gooding Jr’s “Tre Styles” and the way he is brought up by his mother who is played by Angela Bassett and father played by Laurence Fishburne. His mother decided it’s best for him to live with his father “Furious Styles” and Tre stays with him up until his high school years, and that’s when things get serious and even deadly.
His friends Darrin “Doughboy” Baker and his brother Ricky Baker give balance to the movie where Darrin is a known “gangbanger” and Ricky is a football star preparing to apply to USC. Tre learns his lessons from these two characters but mostly from his pops Furious.
Furious teaches Tre about not joining the army, using protection when having sex, and mostly doing the right thing and thinking before you do anything that might change your life forever.
As we know, Ricky gets killed by rival gangbangers before he can celebrate his acceptance to USC. We then have a revenge plot where Doughboy and Tre go after the thugs that killed Ricky, only to have Tre step out of the car before Doughboy kills all three of them.
This is one of the greatest Hip Hop movies in Hip Hop History and not just because Ice Cube stars in it. The soundtrack that is behind it is also bangin, but what makes this movie “Hip Hop” is the lifestyle we were living at the time. I was living in Los Angeles at the time this movie premiered and the life I lived reflected in the movie. I lived amongst the people that wanted to leave the hood and become someone and those individuals that didn’t care what happened to them either selling drugs, stealing cars or gangbanging. It is a tough battle but as a child, you can’t pick and choose where you want to live. So we related with the stories that Ice Cube, N.W.A, Ice T and MC Eiht rapped to us about. In fact, it gave these artists even more to rap about.
The soundtrack had some dope cuts, especially Ice Cube’s “How to Survive in South Central” where Cube raps about the dangers and who to (you guessed it) survive when you travel or live in SCLA. The track is a collage of different funk tracks but especially the drum beat of “So Ruff So Tuff” by Zapp and Funkadelic’s “(Not Just)Knee Deep“. It is classic Cube at his best.
How to survive in South Central (what you do?)
A place where bustin a cap is fundamental
No, you can’t find the shit in a handbook
Take a close look, at a rap crook
Rule number one: get yourself a gun
A nine in your ass’ll be fine
Keep it in your glove comparment
Cause jackers (yo) they love to start shit
Now if you’re white you can trust the police
But if you’re black they ain’t nothin but beasts
Watch out for the kill
Don’t make a false move and keep your hands on the steering wheel
And don’t get smart
Answer all questions, and that’s your first lesson
On stayin alive
In South Central, yeah, that’s how you survive
The other track that bangs westcoast flavor is CMW’s “Growing Up In The Hood” where they take the drum beat from “Kool is Back” by Funk Inc and a dope “Theme from Cleopatra” sample by Joe Simon. It gives it that hard edge that makes it so gangsta for MC Eiht to talk about his rough childhood living in the hood!
Growing up in the hood, yea boy, 1984
Was the year my peers didn’t know what was in store
A little hard head kid came abade
Time to pay my dues, learn the tricks of the trade
And at home, it’s the same ass story
Mom’s treat me like she don’t even know me
But my younger brother’s got much clout
I can’t take this shit so I bones the hell out
And roll wit the pack of wicked muthafuckas
No shorts are taken, we’re down black brothers
A little nigga wit no problems at all
Fucked up and killed my first 8-ball
Quick up the stairs so little sucker stop looking
Stagger to the house so I can collect my whooping
But watch out ’cause a little nigga’s up to no good
Growin’ up in the hood
The other dope tracks include “Mama Don’t Take No Mess” by Yo-Yo, “Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” by Main Source and the smooth love ballad “Me and You” by Tony! Toni! Tone!. The album and movie are a huge part of the Hip Hop culture and on this 25th anniversary, we salute everyone involved in the movie and soundtrack!