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Beat Street (1984)

PG | | Drama, Music | 8 June 1984 (USA)
An aspiring DJ, from the South Bronx, and his best friend, a promoter, try to get into show business by exposing people to hip-hop music and culture.



(story) (as Steve Hager), (screenplay) (as Andy Davis) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tracy Carlson
Guy Davis ...
Kenny 'Double K' Kirkland
Leon W. Grant ...
Carmen Cararro
Robert Taylor ...
Lee Kirkland
Cora (as Mary Alice Smith)
Jim Borrelli ...
Dean Elliott ...
Franc Reyes ...
Antonia Rey ...
Duane Jones ...


An upbeat, lets-put-on-a-show musical about the wonders of hip-hop music and culture that tells the story of Kenny, a young hip-hop artist living in the rough slums of the Bronx with his younger brother Lee and their mother Cora. Kenny dreams of making it big as a disc jockey and playing in the most swank of Manhattan nightclubs, the Roxy. Into their lives comes Tracy, a composer and assistant choreographer from the City College of New York, who inspires him to try to continue his dream while romance begins to grow between them, despite coming from different neighborhoods and worlds. Meanwhile, Lee is part of a break-dancing crew set on dominating the scene of their street. The rest of their friends include Ramon, a graffiti artist determined to spread his painting to every subway car in the city while dealing with his girlfriend Carmen and Chollie, a fellow disc jockey who becomes Kenny's manager after he lands him a gig at a Bronx club. Many hip-hop groups, electro artists, break ... Written by Matt Patay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Capture the energy, excitement, and rhythm on.... See more »


Drama | Music


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

8 June 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Perfect Beat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Crazy Legs later said that during the filming of the battle scene at the Roxy he wanted to battle to Jimmy Castor's song "It's Just Begun," but he was disappointed to find out that the crews were going to battle to a record called "Breaker's Revenge" because of rights issues. See more »


When Spit tags over Ramo's burner with the Dyer Ave train, you can see the "Sp" in "Spit" from a previous take. See more »


Kenny 'Double K' Kirkland: This ain't New York, this the Bronx!
See more »


Referenced in House Party (1990) See more »


Frantic Situation
Composed by Arthur Baker & Afrika Bambaataa
Performed by Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force
Courtesy of Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records
by arrangement with Warner Special Products
© 1984 Tommy Boy Music Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

As a film, awful-- as a document, outstanding.
11 January 2002 | by (Boston, Massachusetts) – See all my reviews

It's fine to appreciate this film through the sieve of nostalgia. Even I have a hard time viewing this film without reciting all the words- I've seen it many many times. But the important thing to note here is that while Harry Belafonte made a noble effort to shape a story out of the Bronx's greatest cultural export, it's only successful half of the time. The result is a film that garners lots of groaning through scenes while waiting for the 'good parts'. Rae Dawn Chong is flimsy and ineffective as usual, in the role of the dance school instructor who 'discovers' Lee and KK. The ensuing romance that KK and Tracy have is terribly trite and makes for sleepy viewing. Likewise the sopping wet story of Ramon and his girlfriend, who have a child and disapproving parents. Heavy handed and poorly acted to boot- even for the time period. All the graffiti was designed by stage painters, and looks like it- distant and plastic. This is a depiction of a corny world indeed.

What Beat Street is notable for, is managing to compile many notable music artists and b-boys/b-girls in performance. The Rock Steady and NY Breakers footage, the Us Girls group assembled for this film, Busy Bee, Melle Mel and the Furious Five, Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force, Tina B., Brenda Starr, Treacherous Three and Doug E. Fresh- there's loads of it which greatly outweighs the mindless fluff of the so-called plot. The soundtrack (co-produced by Arthur Baker of "Planet Rock" fame) is extremely notable as well. It was originally sold in 2 volumes, and while each record has several watery ballads, the classic songs like "Frantic Situation", "Son of Beat Street", "Santa's Rap" and "Battle Cry" are very much worth the purchase.

If you're like me and miss 'old New York' (it was only 20 or so years ago but NY is totally different) it's really great to see painted trains, old street scenes and the Roxy. Beat Street has been contrasted to Wild Style many times, especially with the scorn of Beat Street being the Hollywood retread of Wild Style's gritty budgeted reality. This might be the case, but it would seem that Beat Street has a better focus on b-boying (breakdance) whereas Wild Style's actual graffiti by famed writers remains the strong point of that film. There's a hokey wholesomeness present in Beat Street that just isn't realistic. Regardless, Beat Street is certainly worth viewing- particularly when it pops up on TV- but be prepared for some stale, hackneyed drama strewn into the great music and killer scenes.

"Beat Street Breakdown--- RUAHHH!!!"

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