There aren’t many films that can compare to Boyz n the Hood when it comes to portraying the difficulties of being Black in the United States.
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Boyz N The Hood, the seminal urban coming-of-age drama directed by John Singleton, will be 30 years old in July of this year. Singleton, who was 24 when he wrote and directed the film, was the youngest director ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, beating out the legendary Orson Welles by two years. The film’s screenplay, written by Singleton, was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay.
Boyz n the Hood has been imitated many times, but no one has been able to match the film’s powerful performances, endearing characters, gripping plot, and warning about the rising tide of street violence that is taking the lives of far too many young people.
1. South Central (1992)
An upbeat story of a reformed criminal vowing to teach his son right from wrong after being released from prison, South Central is an adaptation of Donald Bakeer’s 1987 novel Crips.
Stephen Millburn Anderson’s film follows Bobby (Glenn Plummer), a Hoover Street Crip gang member serving time for violating his parole, as his morals change during his time in prison. For the sake of his son Johnny, who was born while Bobby was in prison, Bobby reforms himself after a ten-year sentence. As soon as Bobby is allowed to leave prison, he serves as a positive example for Jimmy, who is on the wrong path.
2. Cooley High (1975)
Preach (Glynn Turman) and Cochise (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), two lighthearted and fun-loving best friends attending high school in 1964 Chicago, are the focus of the film, which was made two decades before Boyz n the Hood.
Both Preach and Cochise have bright futures as aspiring playwrights and basketball stars, respectively. The criminal stigma attached to their reputation changes their lives forever when they are falsely accused of stealing a Cadillac. There’s no other show like it when it comes to balancing comedy and drama.
3. Clockers (1995)
Young drug dealer Strike (Mekhi Phifer) has a poetic soul but is stuck in the Brooklyn projects where he was raised. Strike’s life is turned upside down when he is implicated in a murder he did not commit while he is struggling to get by in a world filled with violence.
4. Fresh (1994)
A 12-year-old boy (Sean Nelson) uses his wits and cunning to help his drug-addicted sister Nichole (N’Bushe Wright) escape their violent and impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood in Boaz Yakin’s Fresh, a character-driven crime story.
Frustrated by his life as a preteen drug dealer, Fresh (Jason Clarke) turns to chess, which his drunken father Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) teaches him as a hobby, to help him escape his bleak circumstances. Fresh outwits a local drug dealer who is connected to Nichole by thinking three steps ahead.
5. Dope (2015)
Filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa likes to use feel-good humor to challenge stereotypes about urban coming-of-age stories. Despite growing up in a rough neighborhood in Inglewood, California, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) embraces his geekiness in Dope.
Malcolm (Kiersey Clemmons) joins forces with his punk-rock bandmates Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemmons) in a dope-dealing scheme to gain notoriety among the local gangsters. When Malcolm returns home from his epic journey, he uses his sharp mind to sort out right from wrong.
6. Baby Boy (2001)
While John Singleton’s Poetic Justice and Higher Learning could be included here, the most relevant story to watch with Boyz n the Hood is his 2001 film,Baby Boy.
Jody, a single 20-year-old father who lives with his mother in gang-infested South Central Los Angeles, is played by Tyrese Gibson. Immature and careless, Jody must mature and provide for his two children, one from each of his mistresses. He must also decide on a life partner.
7. New Jack City (1991)
Wesley Snipes plays Harlem drug dealer Nino Brown in New Jack City, which is set during the mid-1980s crack cocaine epidemic. Scotty Appleton, an undercover cop, targets Nino and his Cash Money Brother Gee Money (Allen Payne) (Ice-T).
Scotty loses his identity as a hero and becomes a villain as he works his way deeper into the underworld as a drug dealer. Boyz n the Hood’s stance against gang violence is as strong as the anti-drug campaign.
8. The Wood (1999)
Famuyiwa’s depiction of the other side of Boyz n the Hood in The Wood is striking. The Wood (named for Inglewood, California) is a coming-of-age film set in South Central L.A. that takes a much more upbeat and lighthearted approach to the template.
Roland’s (Taye Diggs) nerves start to fray as his wedding day draws near. The three of them reminisce about their childhood in The Wood in the 1980s, going to their first school dance, meeting their first love, and avoiding the dangers of the violent neighborhood to help calm their frazzled nerves. Mike (Omar Epps) and Slim (Richard T. Jones) are the best examples.
9. Juice (1992)
Omar Epps also shines in Juice, a character-driven story of ambition and betrayal set in Harlem in the early 1990s, in which he plays one of four best friends.
In order to pass the time and have some fun, Q, Bishop, Steel, and Raheem (all played by Epps) skip school and head to the arcade, record store, pool hall, and other local hangouts. This group of four faces an extreme test of loyalty when Bishop proposes that they burglarize a liquor store in order to gain neighborhood clout.
10. Menace II Society (1993)
Featuring Albert and Allen Hughes as the creative team, Menace II Society tells the story of gang violence in Watts, California in a stark, powerful, and eye-opening manner.
Tyrin Turner plays a teen hustler named Caine Lawson, who grows up in a violent neighborhood full of drug dealers and gang members. Caine tries to get away from his old life after a traumatic experience. However, he soon discovers that leaving behind his old life is more difficult than he anticipated.