5 Ways 'Poetic Justice' Predicted the Future

(The Root) — John Singleton's Poetic Justice was released in 1993 during a watershed period that saw a number of black films entering theaters. Janet Jackson starred as Justice, a poetry-loving hairstylist (the works of Maya Angelou were prominently featured), and Tupac Shakur played Lucky, a postal worker with dreams of making it big as a rapper.

Twenty years later, Poetic Justice continues to influence black culture. Here are five ways the movie predicted the future. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


1. Box-Braids Comeback

Regina King and Janet Jackson (YouTube)

You may think it was Solange who made these braids stylish, but it's clear that her inspiration came from Janet Jackson's portrayal of Justice. Justice and her friend Lesha (Regina King) rock box braids throughout the film. It looks like the style's revival is here to stay.


2. Black Poetry Renaissance

Scene from Poetic Justice (YouTube)

Each year someone laments the death of poetry, and 1993 was no different. Poetic Justice proved that poetry was still relevant. Poetic Justice opened the door to films such as Slam (1998), which brought the poetry slam into the mainstream. Fast-forward to 2013 and there are still those claiming that poetry is dead — and many young, gifted and black poets doing everything in their power to prove the naysayers wrong.

3. The '90s Steez

Scene from Poetic Justice (YouTube)

Box braids: check. Nails: check. Thrifty '90s clothes: check. After rewatching Poetic Justice, I looked down at my outfit and realized that I looked as if I had just stepped out of the movie. On the streets of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and just about anywhere in between, you can see girls rocking the Poetic Justice aesthetic of big braids, bright nails and '90s-inspired fashion.


4. Kendrick Lamar

Screenshot from Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice" (YouTube)

Without the movie Poetic Justice, Lamar's latest album would have been completely different. His song "Poetic Justice" is set over a sample of Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place." Lamar's song topped out at No. 6 on the Billboard rap-music charts and was called flawless by MTV.


5. Inner-City Violence

Scene from Poetic Justice

Share This Story

Get our newsletter