Why VH1's 'The Breaks' Had Us All in Our Feelings About 90s Hip-Hop

Photo by VH1
The story of three hip hop heads who’ll do anything to get on in 1990’s New York gave us all types of nostalgia, but for some hip hop purists, it missed the mark when it came to authenticity.

The Breaks, the story of three hip hop heads who’ll do anything to get on in 1990’s New York, had us almost wishing for those so-called bad old days in the city.

Sure, the VH1 drama opens with the local drug dealer ordering his underlings to beat the crap out of a rival with baseball bats. But the overall feel of the flick—the music, the parties, the clothes, the battle raps—harkened back to the unvarnished feel of hip hop of yesteryear.

I ain't gonna lie, sometimes I do wish I was an adult during the begins of hip-hop in NY. #TheBreaks

Nikki is getting HAZED Diddy style. I'd rather walk in the cold to Junior's than clean some nasty ass bathroom #TheBreaks

We first meet Nikki Jones (played by newcomer Afton Williamson), a recent college grad who supposedly turned down a scholarship to Harvard Law to come to the city for a job in the music industry - we later find out she lied. Nikki goes through hell and high water to cinch a spot at Barry Fouray’s (Wood Harris) management company. All she gets is a chance to scrub the office toilets. Definitely not the gig she hoped for. But Fouray’s sleazy tour manager, Gordy (J. Bernard Calloway), takes Nikki under his wing, showing her the ropes and hitting on her every chance he gets.

Our WTF moment came when Gordy asks Nikki to fetch his artist, D. Rome, and bring him to the studio. Nikki had to coax the clearly inebriated rapper out of his bathroom, and while they’re in traffic, he barfs all over her face and hair.

She gon' smell like throw up foevuh!

Meanwhile, Nikki’s boyfriend David (David Call) is getting his soul crushed a little more everyday at local radio station WPPS, especially after the station announces that it’s going “rap free.” David tries to persuade the station manager - also sleazy - to reconsider, but he won’t budge. So David takes matters into his own hands, sabotaging the station’s playlist with some Public Enemy, and is thrown out the door. His music exec daddy steps in and gets him his old job back, but that actually only makes things worse.

The couple’s DJ/producer friend, Deevee (Mack Wilds) makes beats in his father’s garage, but keeps striking out. That’s until he hooks up with the local dope boy Ahm (Antoine Harris), and the pair turn his trap house into a makeshift studio. They churn out a banger that may get them both off the streets and into a record label. PS: Method Man plays Deevee’s hip hop-hating dad. Oh the irony!

I'm watching Method Man playing somebody daddy in a movie. Yep I'm old. #TheBreaks

#TheBreaks is a/b the hip-hop scene in NYC in 1990. It’s a VH1 movie that I’m hoping they make into a series. Hotter than #Empire already

The movie was a fun jaunt back to hip hop’s humble beginnings, but for some hip hop purists, it missed the mark when it came to authenticity.

Slang terms that weren't used in NYC in 1990: "ma," "fire." I'm nitpicking though. #TheBreaks

Nobody is rocking Nikes in this jawn? This is 1990 NYC, right? #TheBreaks

The women's hairstyles on @TheBreaksVH1 aren't exactly 1990 accurate. I have yet to see an asymmetrical. #thebreaks

What did you think of The Breaks?

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