10 films like On the Come Up you must watch

By Marc Miller
Published: September 24, 2022 (Last updated: January 4, 2024)
10 films like On the Come Up you must watch

This article discusses 10 films like On the Come Up you must watch.

On the Come Up combines rags to riches or nobody to somebody tales that are classic storytelling narratives. Except this film is an adaptation of Angie Thomas’s novel, The Hate U Give. The young adult book was turned into an acclaimed film in 2018. So, naturally, heavy themes will accompany our hero, Bri, rap battling her way out of Garden Heights. That includes racism, police overreach, and stereotyping of people of color.

10 films like On the Come Up you must watch

8 Mile (2002)

Curtis Hanson‘s blistering psychological character study that’s a semi-autobiographical story of Eminem’s life. He plays Jimmy Smith Jr./B-Rabbit, a wannabe rapper who moved down the eight-mile stretch of highway that separates the white suburbs he grew up in and the predominantly African American city of Detroit in the hopes of launching a career in hip hop. The 8 Mile single “Lose Yourself” won an Oscar for Best Original Song, becoming the first rap track ever to win an Academy Award.

Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell (2021)

Finally, a documentary about one of the greatest artists of all time methodically shows the man behind the legend. No documentary on the Notorious B.I.G. went deeper or farther.

Blaze (2018)

Ethan Hawke’s film is wonderfully rich, heartbreakingly honest, and told with overwhelming intimacy. Ben Dickey’s portrayal of Blaze Foley is a sight to behold. While the musical genres couldn’t be different, Blaze and On the Come Up both focus on how artists creatively used authentic experiences to find their voice.

Fear of a Black Hat (1993)

A fascinating mockumentary includes a sociologist following rap artists and the revolving door of white money managers. What makes Rusty Cundieff‘s (Chappelle Show) so groundbreaking is the script’s razor-sharp eye for exposing the mainstream audience’s culpability for its appetite for rap stereotypes.

The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)

If anything, Radha Blank shows us not just adolescents come of age when they reach adulthood. Blank’s film, The Forty-Year-Old Version, is a fearless, razor-sharp comedy that breathes new life into independent filmmaking. The story she spins blisters with a new and exciting voice that’s full of creativity and brutally honest observations that cut deep and often.

The Hate U Give (2018)

On the Come Up was written by Angie Thomas, who wrote the acclaimed book The Hate U Give. Director Sanaa Lathan keeps some of the same themes in Thomas’s work by layering her movie with themes of racism, police overreach, and defying stereotypes.

Hustle & Flow (2005)

If you think it’s tough for a teenage girl in Garden Heights, imagine what it must be for a pimp. In a star-making turn by Terrance Howard (and Taraji P. Henson), he plays the Memphis pimp, DJay. He is a man looking to use his criminal experience to inspire his rap lyrics. Directed by Craig Brewer and produced by the late John Singleton, who reportedly put up the money himself to get the film made, Hustle & Flow was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Howard for Best Actor and “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” winning for Best Original Song.

St. Louis Superman (2019)

A 2019 Tribeca Film Festival entry, this documentary short tells the story of battle rapper Bruce Franks Jr., who became an activist after the 2014 Michael Brown shooting in St. Louis, Missouri. At only 28-minutes, Sami Khan and Smriti Mundhra’s film covers a wide variety of ground, including Franks’ unresolved trauma surrounding his older brother’s death.

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

The film was named to the National Board of Review’s 2015 top ten list while also receiving an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. However, Straight Outta Compton never received the Best Picture nomination it so richly deserved. One of 2015’s smash hits, F. Gary Gray’s (Set it Off, The Negotiator) Straight Outta Compton tells the story of the legendary group N.W.A’s rise that still lives in our memory.

Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby (2022)

Lil Baby also exposed a nation of critics that are overrepresented today. You know the type. The ones with old, white, and northeast attitudes. The kind wouldn’t know a good track unless it was thrown at them while attached to a free pair of promotional Beats headphones. This documentary chronicles his rise in the Oakland City neighborhood in Atlanta to a global star today.

Read – our review of On the Come Up.

Read – our explanation of On the Come Up’s ending.

Read – our breakdown of where On the Come Up was filmed.

Read – whether or not there will be an On the Come Up 2.

Do you have other recommendations for moves like Paramount+ film On the Come Up? Let us know!

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