On the Come Up ending explained – will Bri find her authentic voice?

By Marc Miller
Published: September 24, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)

This article discusses the ending of the Paramount+ film On the Come Up and will contain spoilers.

Bri (Jamila Gray) lives in the shadow of her dead father, a legendary figure around the Garden Heights area. She wears his chain daily, a memory of a great local rapper who died too young. Bri also carries the memory of her mother, Jay (Sanaa Lathan), leaving her alone and being controlled by her heroin use. Now, her mother is clean but has trouble finding work because no one wants to hire a junky. Jay is behind on her rent. The water is now as cold as an unforgiving world. And finally, the electricity is turned off. What is a sixteen-year-old high school student supposed to do?

Well, she sells candy at her local high school. Bri sells some Twix for two dollars and reluctantly takes cash from her high school crush, Malik (Michael Cooper, Jr.) Just as he takes the pack of Skittles and she gets lost in his large smile, two school official security guards demand to see what’s in her bag. The larger of the two grabs the petite Bri, rips the bag out of her hands and slams her to the hard cement floor like he just smelled what The Rock was cooking. It was a violent and clear violation of overreach. This gets Bri suspended by the yuppy school principal for a week.

There is an unseen benefit. After being humiliated in a battle at the Ring, a local establishment that hosts rap battles in Garden Heights, the week off gives Bri time to redeem herself. With the help of her aunt Pooh (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), she wins a battle and gets enough money to help pay off some of her mom’s bills. She also meets Supreme (Method Man), a manager who gets artists paid, and Pooh is intimidated by him. Eventually, even though Pooh is family, Bri dumps her for Supreme. He basically tells her she needs to record a song that kids will buy to scare their parents. So, she does it on the spot with a song called On the Come Up, which is not her experience but will get her the money her family sorely needs.

Paramount+ film On the Come Up ending explained

The track is a huge hit, but Bri begins to feel the fallout. Malik tells her in so many words that she sold out, and this is not her authentic self. When Bri talks about guns and the “Crowns,” this sparks controversy, she is a drug dealer and gangster. A protest to end keeps the school accountable for what happened to her turned into a “riot” with kids running away after a security guard was hit with a glass bottle. Some gang members confront Bri, beat up her and Malik, and they take her father’s chain. This causes Pooh to get retribution, but she is shot, and while she survives, she goes to jail.

Bri then decides to make some changes. She realizes she is not acting like her authentic self. Bri walks away from Supreme after her track is embellished by a local radio host named Hype (Mike Epps), the young woman realizes that she has let a world box her into a stereotype that she wants nothing to do with. The final rap battle proves this point, as Supreme has his Infamous Millz (Lil Yachty) at the Garden Heights battle. Bri basically breaks Millz down as a sellout. He then responds by breaking down Bri on how she grew up and her experiences. How does Bri respond? She won’t even let the star finish his round, destroying him by pointing out his lyrics are inauthentic and are a byproduct of a music industry that he sold out for.

Bri is mobbed by her family and held on their shoulders, as she comes to terms with finding her authentic voice.

READ – will there be a sequel to On the Come Up?

READ – where was On the Come Up filmed?

READ – the review for the film On the Come Up.

READ – everything we know about On the Come Up.

READ – 10 films like On the Come Up.

What did you think of On the Come Up? Comment below.

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