10 Best Movies Like On The Come Up

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On the way up is a recent comedy-drama that not only covers familiar coming-of-age ground, but also adds hip-hop as a crucial narrative theme. With her underdog story of a 16-year-old struggling to become a rapper, Jamila Gray’s Bri must scramble to not only make a name for herself, but also save her family from an eviction notice and to carry on the legacy of his father who was once an MC himself.


Based on current reactions from critics and audiences, On the way up is praised for its narrative which also draws positive comparisons to other hip-hop themed dramas worth watching by fans of the film.

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ten The 40 Year Old Version (2020)

Stream on Netflix

Not all underdog stories have to focus on teenage protagonists. As its title suggests, The 40 year version takes care of a woman approaching 40. A struggling New York-based playwright, she decides to reinvent her own life with an unexpected desire to become a rapper.

Radha Blank’s semi-autobiographical debut film not only covers her own journey as an artist, but also satirizes the overused clichés of modern rap music. So, from drama to music, viewers of On the way up would have a lot to enjoy with the acclaimed Netflix original film.

9 Full-bodied (2017)

Stream to Apple TV

The definitive fight rap comedy, Corsica covers the evolution of a shy-voiced young man to become one of the scene’s hottest new talents. But in its ascent, it must encounter the techniques, political nuances and raw, uncensored brutality of everything that makes fight rap what it is.

While Calum Worthy shines as the protagonist, Corsica features a cast of several established battle rappers such as Dumbfoundead, Dizaster, and Iron Solomon. All in all, this is the perfect watch for fight rap fanatics as well as movie aficionados who focus on budding artists and their eventual struggles.

8 Sneakerella (2022)

Stream on Disney+

Another underdog teen drama from this year, Disney+ Sneakerella is one of the unique adaptations of Cinderella. This time around, the titular protagonist references a teenager who fights against all the odds for his designs to impress a multi-millionaire basketball player turned sneakerhead. Tensions arise when the boy also falls in love with the potential client’s daughter.

As expected, Sneakerella has its fair share of mean stepbrothers and other fairy tale allusions (with the sneaker doubling for the glass slipper). It can work as a lighter watch once the audience is done watching On the way up.

seven The Afterparty (2018)

Stream on Netflix

After a disastrous performance of puking on Wiz Khalifa and suffering a seizure, aspiring rapper Owen turns into a viral meme overnight. Before giving up on his dreams, he desperately pursues one last chance for success at a wild after-party.

In On the way up, the protagonist is talented, but she’s going viral again for the wrong reasons. Both the after party and On the way up are appropriate representations of pop culture in the era of Generation Z, exploring how stardom can often be a double-edged sword with the internet.

6 The Hate You Give (2018)

Stream on Amazon Prime

Based on the best-selling novel by Angie Thomas, The hate you give tackles a teenager’s perspective on several burning issues of the moment, ranging from police brutality to radicalized poverty. Considered one of Amandla Stenberg’s best films, the plot kicks off after the protagonist’s friend, an unarmed civilian, is shot at close range by cops. This forces him to lead his own protests and join Black Lives Matter marches.

The drama also delves into the endless cycle of gun violence and radicalized poverty that leads to further chaos. On the way up also attempts to address issues such as the main character’s own father was an underground hip-hop legend whose career was cut short by gang violence. Additionally, the 2022 film is again based on a novel by Angie, the writer’s second book set in the same universe as The hate you give.

5 Patti$ Cake (2017)

Stream to Apple TV

Patricia Dombrowski AKA Patti Cake$ has big dreams as an aspiring rapper. Unfortunately, his small town in New Jersey doesn’t really offer him a platform. So she gives it her all and embarks on an unforgettable road trip with her grandmother, her best friend and another budding musician.

The premise could show that Patti$ Cake has all the makings of a clichéd underdog hip-hop tale, but it actually packs a lot of depth and charming humor with newcomer Danielle Macdonald giving it her all in the lead role. The charisma and seriousness of his performance are comparable to those of On the way upIt’s Jamila Gray.

4 Hustle & Flow (2005)

Stream on AMC On Demand

A reformed mobster wants to start his life over from scratch, this time as a rapper based on his personal thoughts on “hustling.” But the road to success isn’t easy as not only is his dark past catching up with him, but even established rappers aren’t very eager to check out his work.

But the earnestness provided by Terrence Howard’s lead performance and the innovative ways he records his tracks make Hustle & Flow an entertaining and inspiring drama. Be it Bustle and flowis it DJay or On the way up‘s Bri, they both share a hunger to reach the top even if the odds are not in their favor.

3 Roxanne Roxanne (2017)

Stream on Netflix

One of the most underrated musical biopics of recent times is Roxanne Roxanne, the story of Roxanne Shante, an acclaimed MC and child prodigy of the New York hip-hop scene whose beef with fellow rapper The Real Roxanne fueled the beef known as “The Roxanne Wars”.

However, aside from the music, the Netflix feature also explores the rapper’s troubled personal life and her struggles with domestic violence, as well as general sexism within hip-hop culture. As On the way up also features a promising female lead, both films offer hope for a more realistic and humanized portrayal of women in hip-hop narratives.

2 8 miles (2002)

Stream on Netflix

Eminem’s jaw-dropping acting debut in autobiographical fight rap drama 8 miles not only shows off his dramatic prowess, but also features some of the Detroit rapper’s most iconic tracks, such as the Oscar-winning “Lose Yourself” and the three thrilling third-act battles. Instead of focusing solely on the rapper’s heroism, the film tackles his off-stage personality, diving deep into anxiety, stage fright, poverty and drug addiction.

8 miles is considered one of the best hip-hop themed films to date. So it’s very obvious that the 2000s classic deserves a viewing (or a rewatch for dedicated fans) after On the way up.

1 Love Beats Rhymes (2017)

Stream on Netflix

Wu-Tang Clan Alumnus RZA Turned Musical Drama Director love beats rhyme which is about a hip-hop lover while giving the spotlight to her poetry class teacher. As Azealia Banks made her film debut, she played a young woman in her twenties caught between two different but related worlds: rap and poetry. Her quest to write meaningful lyrics and deliver them with natural flair has her exploring love and life.

To summarize, love beats rhyme is quite an uplifting watch, evoking similar themes to those On the climb. The circumstances of the protagonists of the two films may be different, but their goals of unleashing their full creative potential are the same.

Next: The 10 Best TV Shows Featuring Rap Artists, Ranked By IMDb

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