Director: Sanaa Lathan
Cast: Jamila Gray, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Sanaa Lathan, Mike Epps, Michael Cooper Jr, Miles Gutierrez-Riley
Sanaa Lathan is falling in love with hip-hop again with her directorial debut On The Come Up. The film follows 16-year-old Bri (Gray), living in the fictional inner city of Garden Heights as she pursues her dreams of becoming a famous rapper. For Bri rapping is in her blood, and her legendary MC father “Lawless” was a local sensation before his untimely passing. Now she’s being managed by her Aunt Pooh (Randolph) in the hopes of being discovered by a record company so she might provide for her family.
Pros: The budding romance between Bri and her best-friend (Cooper Jr) gives the film heart, while Randolph’s powerful portrayal and story arc bring the drama. Lathan also gives a passionate performance as Bri’s mother and recovering addict.
Cons: For a film about a budding rap star, the rap performances are pretty lackluster. Adapted from The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas’ same-titled novel, the film hits the beats of other rap battle movies like “8 Mile” and “Hustle & Flow,” but without the extremely entertaining musical numbers and Oscar-worthy soundtrack. Clifford “Method Man” Smith also never spits any bars despite playing a rapper turned music executive in the film.
Emoji Score: 7 out 10 microphones
Release Date: September 23 in theaters and on Paramount+