Ice Cube was John Singleton's first choice for Doughboy. He approached him at a rap music concert a couple of times, and Cube was reluctant to audition via a screen test, conducted by Singleton himself. Singleton later encouraged Cube to write screenplays (based on Cube's contribution to rap lyrics) - which resulted in the successful 'Friday' film series.
John Singleton based Tre's childhood on his own. Singleton's father was a mortgage broker like Laurence Fishburne's character. When he was 12, Singleton moved in with his father in South Los Angeles. Like Tre, Singleton stayed out of trouble with his father's guidance and went to college.
Columbia Pictures wanted to make the picture but wanted someone other than John Singleton to direct it. Singleton believed only he could do it, replying, "Hell, no, I'm not gonna let somebody from Idaho or Encino direct a movie about living in south-central Los Angeles. They can't come in here and cast it and go through the rewrites and know exactly what aesthetics are unique to this film."
John Singleton originally wanted the members of N.W.A. as part of Ice Cube's entourage in the movie. Cube's departure from NWA over a salary dispute resulted in a feud (as depicted in both Cube's "Death Certificate" album, NWA's "100 Miles and Runnin'" and the final NWA album "Efil4zaggin") forced Singleton to recast the roles for Cube's entourage, including the infamous chain-snatcher scene where the character wears an Eazy-E T-shirt and is subsequently beaten.
The self-hating black police officer was based on a cop whom John Singleton encountered as a kid. Singleton felt it was critical to show this officer to show how racist black police could be towards black people. This particular scene with the police officer is an accurate portrayal of a self-hating person of color in a position (from a public servant to an employer) - a YouTube channel (The Advise Show TV) hosted by a Houston, Texas radio personality aired 2 clips via a YouTube upload where he describes a self hating person of color as an Uncle Ruckus (named after a character in The Boondocks) in a position to harm African Americans based on clichéd stereotypes where undisclosed colorism does exist. The comment section with the YouTube videos associated had one reference to this particular scene from the film. Additionally, many of the other characters were inspired by people Singleton knew in real life.
Ice Cube's second son (Darrel Jackson) uses the stage name Doughboy in real life as homage to his father's portrayal in the film. Cube's oldest son (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) goes by the stage name OMG - in real life, he portrayed his real-life father in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton - the biopic based on the rap group N.W.A. which Cube was a member.
Part of John Singleton's inspiration to making this film came when an executive from Orion Pictures came to talk to his class at USC's film school. Singleton told the executives that he didn't like that the movie "Colors" wasn't about South Central Los Angeles at all but was about "two white cops". When the exec defensively said that Ice-T wrote the music for the film, Singleton said to a lot of applause "Well, Ice-T didn't write the fucking script!" Singleton also cited "New Jack City" as a film that he didn't like and wanted to make this film as different from as possible.
In the scene where Furious (Laurence Fishburne) and his son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) are sitting on the rocks having a father-to-son chat, Furious mentions fighting as a young soldier in Vietnam. Laurence Fishburne starred in Apocalypse Now (1979) as a young soldier in Vietnam.
Released the same year (1991) and preserved in the National Film Registry the same year (2002) as Beauty and the Beast (1991). In addition, Laurence Fishburne (Furious Styles) was considered for the role of the Beast.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Actor Lloyd Avery II, who plays the gang member that shoots Ricky, later became a member of the Bloods right after the film's release where he resided in a section of South Central L.A. known as The Jungle (located in Baldwin Hills) which was a known Bloods hangout. He was arrested in real life in connection with a double homicide. He was convicted and put in jail. He was later killed on the evening of September 6, 2005, by his cell mate.