If Boyz N The Hood should be remembered for anything, let it be for its exposure to a side of Los Angeles few living outside of the area were aware of. The streets of South Central, Los Angeles and Compton already had a soundtrack due to the success of rap groups like N.W.A, but in Boyz N The Hood, those streets now had a motion picture to tell their story.
While a movie about one of America’s most notorious ghettos, directed by a young, first-time, African-American filmmaker named John Singleton, and starring a very popular rapper named Ice Cube alongside a handful of fairly unknown African-American actors (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut), doesn’t quite seem like the recipe for blockbuster success, Boyz N The Hood would prove the skeptics wrong. Nearly 18 years after its release, it is now considered a classic film by any and all measures.
With the sad news of Singleton’s death at the age of 51, we wanted to revisit his landmark and Oscar-nominated film and share why we absolutely love this classic:
1. John Singleton was offered $100K to walk away from his script and he said absolutely not. Either he was directing his own script or nothing.
2. Singleton took a chance on Ice Cube, still casting him after a “bad audition.” Be clear: It’s a greater film because of Ice Cube.
3. For the classic phrase, “All you do is eat, sleep, and sh*t”
4. The Liquor Store conspiracy theory.
5. The barbecue at Doughboy and Ricki’s house.
6. The entire soundtrack including Tony Toni Tone’s “Just Me And You.”
7. Nia Long, Nia Long, Nia Long.
8. The game of dominoes gets its moment in the spotlight.
9. Brandi goes to Spelman College.
10. The film went there to show us the realities of what it’s like to be Black living in the hood.
11. Angela Bassett’s brief but powerful role as Tre’s mother, Reva.
12. Furious giving his son Tre a homemade haircut.
13. The made-up story Tre tells Furious about having sex.
14. One word: Gentrification. How many people learned what that was from Boyz N The Hood?
15. Furious telling Tre and his friends the SAT is culturally biased years before it was a national issue.
16. As much as it hurts, Ricky’s death scene in the alley is still one of the most powerful cinematic scenes to date. In his first film, Morris Chestnut gave it his all. Heartbreaking.
17. The opening and closing scenes reference the movie, Stand By Me.
18. Laurence Fishburne plays the heck out of Jason “Furious” Styles Jr., crafting a nuanced depiction of Black fatherhood in America.
19. This film represents the importance and power of creating the film you want in your own image and not caring whether it fit into the Hollywood landscape. Singleton filmed his truth and it still resonates to this day.
20. In 2002, Boyz N the Hood was entered into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, a program established in 1989 as a way to preserve films deemed important enough to be kept for future generations. Only 25 films are chosen each year.
hank you John for everything you gave us in your art. Rest in power.