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Having already made a name for himself as former classmate Spike Lee’s go-to cinematographer over the preceding decade, in 1992 Ernest R. Dickerson embarked on his own directorial career with Juice, a propulsive, noir-tinged coming-of-age drama starring Omar Epps as Q, a Harlem teen and aspiring DJ whose talents at the turntable seem to promise an authentic means of thriving within, and perhaps transcending, the material confines of his working-class upbringing. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old Tupac Shakur, fresh off the success of his debut album—with which he had swiftly established his own status as a bona fide star, and a leading figure in the ascendant genre of politically conscious West Coast rap—delivers a tour de force performance as Bishop, the mercurial wild card of Q’s tight-knit crew of friends, who harbors a hot temper and a budding violent streak that threatens to derail Q’s musical ambitions and place the futures of all four young men in jeopardy.

With an assured hand and cool virtuosity, Dickerson reconsiders the themes and real-world concerns that were animating hip hop culture at the time, refracting them through a distinctly cinematic lens.