Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation

Director Richard Lowe, Martin Torgoff
United States / 85 min. / 2011 / English

A lethal combination: crack and Afro-Americans. How the invention of base devastated a community, destroyed the innocence of hip hop, inspired gangsta rap, and gave Reagan an obscene excuse for the mass imprisonment of young blacks.  


A lethal combination from the point of view of the powers that be: crack and Afro-Americans, with Ice-T narrating, Planet Rock opens where films about hip hop tend to start, but rapidly veers down the narcotics road. It goes like this: cocaine appears, they invent its cheap substitute, the bubble bursts, recession kicks in; and crack starts to destroy the black communities. And that, or so they tell us, is when the media went to town (publicizing "a plague that doesn't yet exist"), and Ronald Reagan unleashed his anti-crack war (translation: an excuse for the mass imprisonment of blacks, with a distinction between the sentences for consumption of cocaine – for whites – and the consumption of crack – for blacks). The rappers who became the trusted voice of the ghetto and the dealers, reborn as heroes of social mobility, cover all the subplots: Hip hop's loss of innocence, the aesthetic interaction between dealers and rappers, the guns, the cops, Rodney King, and the CIA's Contra conspiracy. Musicians (Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, Erik B & Rakim, RZA, Raekwon...), notorious dealers and writers retrace the story we were never meant to hear. 


Showing format

Nominated for Emmy for Arts and Culture Programming

Snoop Dogg, RZA, Raekwon, B-Real, Freeway Rick Ross, Ice-T

Richard Lowe, Martin Torgoff

Richard Lowe

Music Composer
Michael Furjanic

Richard Lowe, Martin Torgoff

Film company
Prodigious Media

Film distributor

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