‘Style Wars’ Is Still the Defining Documentary of Early Hip-Hop Culture

Style Wars is the linchpin of the early ’80s hip-hop canon that includes narrative films like Wild Style, Breakin’, and Beat Street. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1984 and became a cult phenomenon. Watching the doc now, it feels like the origin of many now-inarguable truths: that graffiti wasn’t a gateway to violence but an escape from it; that rap wasn’t merely a passing fad; that b-boying could be done professionally; that the spread of hip-hop was inevitable…

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