Monday, August 31, 2009

The 10 Best Black Films Of The 1990s

[a jaded viewer disclaimer: this list is all in good fun, why so serious?]

[this list brought to you by the warped mind of Insano Steve, who would like you to know it took 2 motherfuckin hours to compile this list for your fuckin reading pleasure. So the least you cats could do is leave a comment, you know what I'm sayin?]

When people think of blaxploitation, they usually think of the 1970s. However, there was a decade that was every bit as good a decade for black cinema. Let's go back to a simpler time.

A time when being black still scared some white people. An innocent time when crime and violence were still glorified. A time when movies were made as an afterthought to the soundtrack. Oh yes, a time when going to see a black movie meant possibly risking being shot to death. Hells yeah, I'm talking about the nineteen mother-fucking nineties!

And here are the 10 Best Black Films Of The 1990s (in descending order, yknow what im sayin):

10.) Juice (1992)

A lot of white people made fun of Juice's tagline: "Juice. How far will you go to get it?".

Back in '92, there were still phrases black people used that were foreign to the white man. Not so much these days. There's pretty much no distinction between black culture and mainstream culture now. Oh well.

Juice starred Tupac and Omar Epps (in his first role) as teenage thugs in Harlem. Tupac totally rocks the Gumby haircut in this movie. This is one of many movies where Tupac plays a psycho thug and dies in the end. Hmmm.

Epps plays a thug that wants to reform (as he does in every other movie). It's crazy to believe Epps is playing a doctor on TV these days.

Way to go Dr. Epps! Soundtrack badly outsold the movie.

9.) Class Act (1992)

People usually associate Kid 'N Play with the House Party movies but this was actually their best film.

Kid plays super-nerd Duncan Pinderhughes and Play is super-thug Blade Brown. They both have to switch identities with each other for some silly reason and comedy ensues. Kid cut off his iconic super high top fade in this movie. That may or may not have ended the career of Kid 'N Play, since Kid's hair was at least 60% of their appeal.

The last that we've seen of Kid 'N Play was in a recent State Farm commercial where LeBron James makes fun of them. LeBitch likes to make fun of easy targets like Kid 'N Play, Soulja Boy, and Bobby Brown.

Tough guy, that LeBronze James. Hey, was it Soulja Boy that got Youtubed by some guy off the street? Was it Kid 'N Play that got smoked by the Orlando Magic? Nope, that was "King" James. Hey LeFraud, how does Hedo Turkoglu's ass taste?

8.) The Walking Dead (1995)

Yeah, nobody but me saw this shit. This aint even on DVD. Imagine that, in this day and age.

Only movie on the list not taking place in da ghetto. I guess maybe people were getting tired of that, so they made this movie about black GIs in the Vietnam War. In the hands of a good director/writer, this could've been a great movie. As it was, it still is a great black movie.

The only even semi-famous person in this was Eddie Griffin, who was freaking hilarious. Apparently, bruthas in the Vietnam War spoke exactly like bruthas in the 1990s, or so it was in this movie. Every other word in the dialogue is 'mother fucker'.

Lots of Charlie are slaughtered. Lots of bruthas are slaughtered. Lots of low budget explosions. Lots of graphic deaths. Lots of "yo, this aint my war".

The message: If you never been to Vietnam, don't never come to Vietnam. Cause you wouldn't understand Vietnam, so stay the fuck out of Vietnam!

7.) Gridlock'd (1997)

This is only sort of a black movie. I mean about half of the cast is black. But in our culture, we round up in such cases (i.e., Obama) .

Tupac and Tim Roth play musicians trying to kick their heroin addiction in fucked up Detroit. But they find that difficult to do because social/health services in America are a fucking mess. This was a real unique movie because, it's a black comedy and it's also a black comedy (if you know what I mean).

Tupac proves in this movie that he can actually act. The end scene, where Tim Roth has to intentionally stab Tupac so that he can be admitted to a hospital and get off the streets, is one of my favorite scenes ever.

The director, Vondie Curtis Hall, went on to make Waist Deep (aka, the best black movie of the 21st century).

6.) Boyz 'N The Hood (1991)

This is the movie that started all the South Central gangsta drive-by cap-in-yo-ass movies. Just about the coolest shit ever (at the time), it has lost some appeal over the years.

Mainly because, it's hard to even think of Cuba Gooding as a black man these days. Ice Cube has sold out pretty hard as well. And Morris Chestnut seemed kinda silly even at the time. But hey, if this is on TV, I'm still gonna watch.

Personal favorite scene is when the paralyzed gangsta helps out with their gangsta shit. It's a shame what's happened these days to black movies (Thanks for exactly nothing Tyler Perry). And to hip hop (Fuck you Puffy. I hate. You are worst than 1,000 white rappers combined).

Or even black fashion (Have you noticed? Black people dress like white hipsters now. How did this happen? I blame Kanye West).

Obama needs to do something quickly. The black youth of America needs heroes!

5.) Fear Of A Black Hat (1994)

I was a little hesitant to put this one on the list because basically it's a satire of almost every other movie on this list. But this was just too damn good to be left off. Copying the fake documentary style of 'Spinal Tap', but instead follows the life of the rap group 'NWH' (aka Niggaz With Hatz).

This parodies everything you could think of from 90s black culture, and hits on almost every one. Basically, a much better version of the Wayan's satire 'Dont Drink Your Juice....". NWH features lead MC, Ice Cold, who's a combination of Chuck D and Luther Campbell (if that makes any sense).

Then there's hype-man, Tasty Taste, who's half Flavor Flav, half Treach (um, yeah). The actor who plays Tasty Taste also played the gay black nerd from 'Revenge of the Nerds', so that's awesome.

And finally, there's the DJ, Tone Def, who is like PM Dawn on a turntable. One of the best satires ever, though sadly not many people know of it. Please, see this shit.

4.) Belly (1998)

Actually this was more like a 90 minute music video. This was director, Hype Williams, only movie (he just makes music videos).

In a DVD commentary, Williams' only regret was not making the sex scenes more graphic! The 'actors' in this movie were Nas and DMX, who were 2 of the biggest rappers at the time. They play gangstas that, of course, are trying to reform. Nas decides he wants go back to Africa (?!?!?) and DMX turns to Islam (which would seem to go against non-violence).

It's kinda hard to watch DMX act, since just like when he's rapping, everything he says sounds like a dog barking. Everything comes across as angry. But it's as entertaining as hell.

Meanwhile, all of the thoughtful 'message' scenes goes to Nas. The most memorable scene is when Nas gets out of his Bentley (dressed in gold chains and big mink fur coat) and tells a young gangsta "Yo kid, crime don't pay yo. You need to go to college and shit", and then gets back in the Bentley. Yeah, this is deep.

Watch this movie, and afterward, you'll be thinking about life and shit. Yo.

3.) Friday (1995)

My favorite black comedy of all time. Definitely the movie that I've seen most times on this list. If you're reading this, you've likely seen it at least 5 times.

Craig, Smokey, Mr. Jones, Debo, Big Worm, miscellaneous hos/bitches and crackheads. Everything in this was perfect. Honestly, if you didn't like Friday, you suck.

It's too bad that Chris Tucker never made another good movie. Though, I also liked the second Friday, and to a lesser extent, the third Friday.

If they could've combined Smokey with Day-Day in the same movie, that would've been sick. I almost feel bad not having this higher on the list, but alas, nobody really died in this, and that's what's really important about the black movie experience.

2.) Menace II Society (1993)

God damn, what can I say. When I think of glorified poverty and crime and violence, this is the first thing I think of. So much gangsta shit, it's hard to even summarize.

My favorite (and probably everybody else's favorite scenes) were: 1) O-Dog killed the Koreans in the beginning, 2) O-Dog killing the crackhead (so funny), 3) the over the top racist cops, 4) A-Wax killing that fool at the hot dog parking lot ("Hey homey, you need help?"), and most infamously of all 5) Caine jacking that guy at the McDonalds drive-thru. Good times all around.

This was the movie where people were killed at the movie's premiere, so you know it's gotta be good. It's a shame that Caine really fell off the map after this movie. O-Dog would be in a lot of movies, but not as any character even close to O-Dog.

Even the directors, the Hughes Brothers, didn't make anything like ever again. I think all parties concerned knew this was the ultimate black gangsta movie. Nobody will ever touch this shit, so why even bother?

1.) Above The Rim (1994)

Good black movies should have many things: crime, glorified violence, poverty, sex, Tupac, excessive swearing, drug use, comedy (intentional and otherwise), and a great soundtrack. Well, Above The Rim's got all those things .... and it's got basketball! That, put's it over the top.

From the opening scene where a brutha literally dies trying to dunk, to the end when Kyle ends up in Georgetown (Iverson anyone?), there's isn't a bad scene in the whole film. Plus, that soundtrack is awesome.

Tupac plays the over the top drug dealer 'Birdie' who agressively recruits basektball prodigy, Kyle, to be on his intramural team (the aptly named 'Birdmen'). Marlon Wayans plays 'Boogaloo', Kyle's friend and comic relief. Leon plays Birdie's brother (not brutha), who helps Kyle resist the temptation of the gangsta life. Bernie Mac plays a bum, that Birdie ends up killing, just because. Tupac steals the show here, and eats up every scene he's in.

Also showing out is Birdie's henchman (and power forward), Motaw, who commits about 20 flagrant fouls in the final game (none of which are called). The basketball scenes are pretty decent here (not as good as 'He Got Game', but a way better film overall).

My personal favorite scene was in the end, after Kyle beats Birdie's team, and Motaw pulls out a gun and attempts to shoot just about everybody in Harlem, but is gunned down by undercover cops (wow, cops can be good guys!).

Another memorable scene is when Boogaloo shoots Birdie dead in the end. That's damn surreal when you watch it now. Though technically, this is not as good as 'Menace', you really can't watch 'Menace' too many times, as it can be a little depressing. That's not the case here.

You can't turn away when this is on. That's why this is the best black movie of the 1990s.

If you enjoyed this mega awesome list, Insano Steve has also written Tyrese Gibson: Does he really shoot a gun in every movie he's in? and a My Bloody Valentine 3D Review. Check those out as well.

Comments? Disagree? Agree? Love mail? Hate mail? Blurbs? Mumbo Jumbo? Let us know what you think!

Bookmark and Share

, , , , ,


  1. Wow. I am glad to see all the Pac movies here. He was an amazing actor. Juice was phenomenal. Glad to see the Walking Dead on here too, no one has seen that movie, but everyone needs too. Friday is great but id trade class act with house party edged in at 1990 :D

  2. I have seen NONE of these films, but whether I see "Menace 2 Society" or not depends on the context of this scene:

    "Caine jacking that guy at the McDonalds drive-thru."


  3. Class Act better then House Party? YOu're out of you mind. Robin Harris alone was better then Class Act.

  4. great list, too funny - the memories of going to see these movies with chinese food and crooked I is a little fuzzy. Bigups on the list! thing ClassACT over HouseParty - Robin Harris RIP! Watching these movies in Sunrise Mall also added to the affect...Queens keep it on the low with the 4 O

  5. Officially only seen one of said list, and I dont think it takes much guessing to figure that it was Friday. Cant add much to the conversation unfortunately, but consider my interest peaked for several movies I never would have considered otherwise

  6. 3 of the movies have Tupac in em which says it all. The funny part of the 90s was besides your recharge of self aware slasher flicks with horror parodies, the 90s was full of gangsta flicks with gangsta parodies.

    We don't get that alot these days like Insano Steve says. The ones we do get star Tyrese in em.

  7. this is crap juice is ranked higher than kid n play you forgot about higher learning. boyz in the hood is damn near first. and don't rule out eddie murphy. damn are you black

  8. Dude Insano clearly understands 90s black movies. You have to have a Tupac movie #1 and a movie starring Larenz Tate as #2.

    It's common knowledge.

  9. Good list! I have seen most of them and can agree with your insight. I'm a big fan of the fridays, nothing better than relaxing and taking in the events of a hectic but fun friday, we've all been there, not exactly but near enough!! i will be watching menace to society asap so thanks for your 2 hours of consideration.

  10. good list a few omissions like woo and hotel rwanda but yeah not bad

  11. GOOOOOD LIST...I want to go out and buy every last one. Must-haves for a movie collection. And, yes! I have seen every last one maybe more than 5 times! BUT WAIT! WHERE THE HELL IS "SET IT OFF"??????!!! I MEAN REALLY!

  12. Good List! But I had to stop at the part in the Belly description that insinuated that Islam was a violent religion. Not cool! Don't let the actions of a few speak for billions of people who live a very peaceful lifestyle. Please get educated on Islam.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.