When we all saw Tupac Shakur in Juice in the ‘90s, not only did we pray to never run into someone like Bishop in our own lives, but we learned the range Pac had outside of the studio. ‘90s and early 2000s Black cinema was marked by a particular era of gangster-laden, hip-hop fueled narratives that sometimes hit the mark, with films like Do the Right Thing, Boyz N the Hood, and New Jack City lending various insights into the cinematic representation of Black Consciousness as it was in the ‘90s and later.
Above the Rim, another ‘90s classic also starring Shakur, remains a staple in the collection of films that highlight the nuances of the Black experience in America, from its dealings with fatalism and nihilism to community and competition. Like its contemporaries, it too has flaws — leaning too heavily on stereotype or over-relying on cliche at times, yet critics remain keenly aware of the impact hip-hop and basketball had on the film and in the culture at large.
Tomorrow, acclaimed record label Death Row Records plans to celebrate the release of the Above the Rim digital deluxe soundtrack with exclusive merchandise and an online basketball game titled Hoops. The game features the classic ‘90s aesthetic often associated with basketball games of the time, with the iconic soundtrack playing in the background, and is coming just in time for the NBA playoffs. The game is part of a celebration of the 30 year history of the legendary Death Row Records, with the first 30 players who score 300 points winning a special limited edition NFT.
The 21-track Above the Rim Digital Deluxe edition includes three bonus songs, “Pain” (with Stretch) and “Loyal to the Game” by Tupac plus, “Mi Monie Rite!” by Lord G. The deluxe edition is due tomorrow on all digital streaming platforms and on cassette tape, which is now available for the first time again since its 1994 release. In addition, there will be SLAM co-branded limited edition merchandise dropping Friday at 12PM EST at this link here. The collaboration is a testament to the influence and long-standing history hip-hop has had on basketball and streetwear and highlights how relevant Above the Rim has been on a cultural level.