Beat Street, an oral history of the 1984 hip-hop film

Wondering Sound presents a fantastic oral history of the classic hip-hop movie Beat Street that was based on an article written for the Village Voice.

Jon Chardiet: (Producer Harry Belafonte) told me when we were filming that hip-hop was an urban art form that hadn’t been co-opted by white people. And before it got co-opted by the world and would appear on McDonald’s commercials, he wanted to show it in all of its purity. He felt the movement, the hip-hop movement, was about all of this angst after the ’70s, when you could murder somebody on the street and get away with it. Mr. Belafonte said right at the beginning that this [film] was going to be a positive force for change. [He said] they’re not fighting up in Harlem and the Bronx anymore with guns and knives. They’re having rap battles and dance battles and graffiti battles. They would go into an abandoned house, and they’d run electricity through the lamppost. The movie is a culmination of his vision. People seem to forget that Harry Belafonte — whether you agree with his politics or not — is a major figure in our culture in terms of putting his money where his mouth is consistently for black culture.

‘Beat Street’: The Making of a Hip-Hop Classic (Thanks, Gil!)