Review: Dope A Modern Classic

Why Dope Is A Good Movie

Dope is a good movie because of its poignant message to Gen Z to use both brains and hustle to succeed in the modern age.  

“I saw the crown of France on the ground, and I picked it up with a sword” (Napoleon Bonaparte).

These famous words by one of the world’s greatest military minds, sum up the message of the film ‘Dope’.

On the surface, ‘Dope’ is a throwback 90s Hip Hop movie.

Dope follows three modern day Hip Hop geeks, Malcolm Adekanbi, an exceptionally intelligent High School Senior with an absent Nigerian Father who has plans to enter Harvard University, as well as his best friends, Jib and Diggy.

I’m a 90s Hip Hop Head, so to me Dope’s aesthetic and 90s Hip Hop soundtrack were sublime.

There’s a nice modern touch with ASAP Rocky playing a significant but seemingly cliche ‘Thug’ role in the movie. Considering the throwback aesthetic of ASAP Rocky and his crew ASAP MOB on tracks such as ‘Trillmatic’, his Hip Hop sensibilities accord with the theme and musical tone of the movie despite the seemingly cliche ‘Thug’ role he plays.

ASAP plays his role with finesse though, and is aptly utilised to drop some knowledge on the sonic and cultural influence of Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’ in an endearing conversation on Hip Hop history with Malcolm.

He succeeds in schooling Malcolm. Not an easy feat since Malcolm is a certified Hip Hop nerd who knows Hip Hop and all the classic records like the back of his hand.

A classic, well executed cinematic moment that will not be repeated anytime soon.

Despite the cliche ‘Hood” Thug imagery and ‘club robbery’ scene which catapults Malcolm on the unexpected journey that will test whether he really has what it takes to make it to Harvard, it is the cliche nature of Malcolm’s ‘Hood’ dilemma that is essential in telling the story of ‘Dope’ and driving its point home.

After Malcolm flees the scene of a club robbery, he finds Kilos of Coke hidden in his backpack by the ‘older brother’ (ASAP Rocky) that he’s just bonded with. Malcolm now needs to get rid of the Cocaine without being caught and jeopardising his Harvard dream. Both his Brains and brawn are tested, because he cannot conquer the situation without using both.

Therein lies the genius and magic of ‘Dope’.

Dope’s message is loud, clear, relevant and far from cliche. To succeed you have to be able to use both brains and hustle.

Malcolm is forced to realise this, and as he does what is necessary to overcome the situation, he learns something very significant about both himself and the world.

He will need to be both smart and ruthless in order to get into Harvard and thus to succeed in the game of life in general. In other words he learns through experience, the meaning of Napoleon’s famous words by picking up his crown from the gutter.

I fell in love with Malcolm’s intelligence, resilience, lack of self-pity and hunger for success. Despite the odds, Malcolm is determined, and that makes all the difference.

The following quote captures Michael’s resilient spirit more than any other I could think of:

“I’m from a poor, crime-filled neighborhood, raised by a single mother, don’t know my dad, blah, blah. It’s cliche.”

This is why ‘Dope’ is such a good movie and deserves to be recognised as a modern classic.