20 Years Later, CB4 Has More In Common With Today’s Hip-Hop Era

Twenty years ago, a movie debuted that tackled the absurdity of Hip-Hop music, it poked fun at the music industry and the depth some will go to become rappers. That film is the cult classic CB4.

The film tells story of Albert (Chris Rock), Euripides (Allen Payne), and Otis (Deezer D), three middle-class friends who have ambitions of becoming rap stars.  After Albert fails to get the help of nightclub owner and criminal Gusto (Charlie Murphy) to give them a break, Gusto is arrested and led to believe that Albert set him up.

While Gusto is behind bars, Albert takes Gusto’s name (sound familiar) becoming “MC Gusto” and forms a hardcore rap group, CB4 (Cell Block 4), with Euripides and Otis now known as Dead Mike and Stab Master Arson.

CB4‘s satirical depiction of gangsta rap still resonates with audiences today.  Writers Chris Rock, Nelson George (author of the critically-acclaimed book, Hip-Hop America), and Robert LoCash are not only able to laugh at the sensationalism that was, and still is, such a part of rap, but also make a few poignant points about it as well.

In honor of the flick’s 20th anniversary , AllHipHop.com took another look at CB4 and came up with 5 reasons that the film should be deemed, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for the preservation by the United States National Film Registry just like its Rock-and-Roll counterpart, This is Spinal Tap.

Hip-Hop culture has made a lasting impression on music, and CB4 is one of the many ways it has done the same for film.

5) Music is a character in this film, and so the music supervision of the movie and its accompanying soundtrack are vital to the entire project’s success.  Fortunately, neither disappoint.  While the film’s focus is hardcore Hip-Hop, the music for CB4 ranges from gangsta rap to new jack swing and does a superb job of including all the popular types of urban music in the era of the film’s release.

4) Controversial lyrics and contemporary music go hand-in-hand.  And while some younger rap fans may not be as well-versed in the 2 Live Crew obscenity trial as older ones, it is well parodied in CB4.  But “offensive” material in pop culture is a never-ending debate between art and the establishment.  So while the incident itself may be a dated one, the arguments for and against free speech still stand strong today and will probably remain intact well into the future.

[ALSO READ: The Tao of BIG: The 5 Most Poignant Bars on ‘Ready to Die’]

3). One of the things that this film captures very well is the transition that Hip-Hop made from its early stages to the gangsta motif that was so apparent in the late 1980s and early 90s.  While the opening credits of the film play, lots of old-school rap memorabilia is seen and there is a part where the three friends pretend to be Run-D.M.C. and rap along with a tape of “King of Rock.”  As CB4 progresses though, the music changes and then focuses on the popularity of hardcore rap at the then present time.  The group CB4 even mimics N.W.A with their hit single, “Straight Out of Locash.”

2). Unlike the aforementioned This is Spinal Tap, CB4 has its support from the Hip-Hop community and that is evident in the cameos made by Eazy-E, Shaquille O’Neal, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, and most memorably Ice-T.  And even if the Rock-and-Roll satire preceded the Hip-Hop one, the lack of rock music support in Spinal Tap (not counting The Runaways’ bassist Vicki Blue) costs it credibility when compared to CB4.  Years later, in Ice-T’s documentary, The Art of Rap, Grandmaster Caz famously says, “Hip-Hop didn’t invent anything.  Hip-Hop reinvented everything.”  CB4 is a perfect example of that.

1). The message of the movie is that wrong-doing and disrespect is nothing to be glorified.  And while Hip-Hop has always had a fascination with crime and punishment in cinema, CB4 is notably significant because it presents potentially real consequences for even just pretending to be a thug.  And impressionable Hip-Hop fans can relate to that far more than Scarface killing people, doing a ton of cocaine in a mansion, and then being shot to death.

Why do you think CB4 is a cult classic?  Would you be interested in seeing a sequel?  Sound off in the comments section!


  • Biba Adams

    I still love this movie… watch it all the time. I’ll pass on a sequel, but give me another ten years and I would love a remake.

    • Uh, you already have the remake “Rick Fawlse” / MMG!


    • what? ten years? the man just said around 20 since it was made. you tryna be in a wheel chair wen you watch it or somthing? gtfo of here with thtat stupid shit.

  • Dave Williams

    no sequel please hip hop is out of control especially this swag skinny jean rap smh

  • Adcapone8

    Classic Movie. Its funny because even after this movie came out people still tried to be gangsta and were exposed.

  • brotha_man

    a lot of rappers today were influenced by this movie. str8 outta carol city….

    • Bumpy Johnson

      ahaahahahahhaha ..naw that actually had me laughin..good one.

    • In the words of 2 Pac”say his name” lol

    • $18592567


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  • as much as I like CB4 the movie fear of a black hat was better. most of the events in the movie followed everything going on in hip hop at the time. fear of a black hat is a slept on classic. all true hip hop heads need to check it out

    • RichFromBX

      fear of a black hat taught the unknowing the difference between a hoe and a bitch…lol..

      • brotha_man

        another movie that was terrible but had a good message was Pootie Tang

      • Sha ba daba, otay wally kay!

        >>Takes of belt

    • Yo! When he had dude chained up, butt naked in the basement, kicking him in the @$$ while wearing a combat boot, to LL’s “Mama said knock you out!” (*Mama said Kick Yo! @$$!” ) I fell the fugg out!

    • DollasTX

      2 points for the movie reference

    • $18592567

      U buggin… CB4 and Krush Groove on the same level. Fear of a Black Hat is somewhere near Meteor Man and Shazam…

  • Jas1ne

    Rappers are too sensitive now. If they were to do a sequel cats would be offended and beefing with the celebrities who make this

  • Mafia Is Forever

    Straight Outta Locash! LMAO, that shit hilarious!

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  • steven dabney

    Funny movie. “I’m black.”

  • Mafia Is Forever

    There’s always gonna be fakes and copycats because the trust is that people get inspired by the things that impress them. That’s why it’s always good to be a positive figure because somebody will follow your lead, if you’re good at somethin’ and sometimes, you don’t even have to be good, just well known.

  • Chris

    “I’m black ya’ll, and I’m black ya’ll, and I’m blickety-black and I’m black ya’ll! And I’m blickety-black, blacker than black, and blickety-black, black, etc., etc.”

    • Tony G.


    • dominicancoke

      Thats my favorite part lol

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  • Abrasive Angel

    Rick Ross had to have kept this in his dvd collection for years.

  • Tony G.

    Rick Ross obviously took his lead from Gusto lol

  • DollasTX

    everybody gonna find the opp to diss RAWSE – but um’ma keep it 1000% – this movie came out 20years ago for a reason … think back (if you are old enough) and most of the gangsta rappers we APPRECIATE now were REALLY “the subjects behind the concept to this movie” 20 years ago – we got old and forgot that them niggas wasnt REALLY who they say they were EITHER for convenience

    real rap – rappers useta get robbed back then for faking the MACHINE GUN funk

    we turned into out parents – same way they did us when they heard that ISLEY BROS. groove “this, that REAL MUSIC” >>> is the same shyt we doing now to our kids, nephews, nieces generation

    • Difference is, for the most part, back then when you were exposed there were actual consequences

    • Tyfromthechi

      I agree but if u was a fraud back then people called u out and yo career got ended look what happen to ja rule street credit was everything then


    • GregSki86

      stating the VERY OBVIOUS lmao

  • dominicancoke

    Funny thing is nwa was fake ice cube was no ganster neather was dre or yella true facts

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  • VentKing11

    “Luv to eat it/luv to suck it/take a shit in a bucket!” hahaha

    If ever there was a b-movie classic, this was it! They ought to re-do this movie starring Rick Ross, 50 Cent, and Birdman…lol

    • $18592567

      50 real
      Stunna real
      maybe Jay-Z, Camron, Nas, Ja Rule, YMCMB entire roster

  • tony greg

    Tupac was a Fake Thug just like CB4!

    • Tyfromthechi

      2pac shot 2 police officers and got away with it

  • Sneak

    When it comes down to it CB4 was not a good movie. In fact it was pretty lame and corny. There was another movie that came out at the same time that covered the same subject matter called Fear Of A Black Hat. That movie was 1000 times funnier and on point than CB4. That’s the one that people should still be writing about and demanding a sequel for.