A new movie recalls hip hop life back in the day. ''Brown Sugar'' remembers old-school books, movies, and music
Mos Def, Taye Diggs, ...
Credit: Brown Sugar: K.C. Bailey

When did you fall in love with hip-hop?

That question, the first line in the film ”Brown Sugar,” has been on a lot of lips lately. A quarter century after Kool Herc first rocked the South Bronx with two turntables and a microphone, hip-hop dominates pop culture. Through years of innovation, drama, and unfathomable success, the genre, once dismissed as a fad, has become an institution. And now that hip-hop is old enough, a slew of movies, books, and albums are ready to reflect on its old-school glory and new-day struggles.

”Brown Sugar,” which just hit theaters, leads the charge. Sanaa Lathan plays Sid, the rap journalist who asks that opening question, and a follow-up: ”Did you ever think you’d see the day hip-hop grew up?” Taye Diggs is Dre, an A&R rep frustrated by his label’s commercialism. As kids, the pair bonded over the crackling new world of MCs and DJs. As adults, they reconnect with the music and realize their love for each other. It’s a romantic comedy, costarring Mos Def and Queen Latifah, and a clear sign the culture has come of age. It’s also hip-hop’s first grown-up movie.

”There’s a generation that, like me, grew up listening to hip-hop,” says ”Sugar” director-cowriter Rick Famuyiwa, 29. ”Hip-hop has reached the point of maturity [where one asks] how it fits into the mainstream when it’s always been outside, how does it deal with its success?”

Brown Sugar
  • Movie
  • 108 minutes