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By 1984, hip-hop was in full force, but still in its infancy as far as narratives in cinema. Evolutionary movements in music have always moved more rapidly on the streets, where cultural gatekeeping erodes much faster than in either the film or music industries.
Hip-hop’s origin story — DJ Kool Herc’s 1973 Bronx dance party — channels a naturally visual mythos. In 1973, the world was still enthralled with disco, while Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen were all releasing landmark albums. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist transformed the notion of horror, while key figures in the New American Cinema movement like George Lucas and Sidney Lumet released iconic films. Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly would influence a generation thanks to Enter the Dragon, and the Blaxploitation cinema movement birthed by Melvin Van Peebles gave us Richard Roundtree, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Tamara Dobson, and Ron O’Neal, whose iconography…