The Five Heartbeats by Robert Townsend
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The Five Heartbeats by Robert Townsend

Five men in suits reach out putting their hands together in the center of the group while spotlit on stage.
Robert Townsend, The Five Heartbeats, 1991. Image courtesy United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo.

At the start of the 1990s, a generation of Black music defined by Motown and other regional soul and R&B scenes was transforming the path hip-hop was to follow. Created at the height of this change and produced by a major studio, as well as written by Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans, The Five Heartbeats tracks the rise and fall of five friends singing in a close-knit group over several decades. Though fictional, the film draws from biographical elements of several artists from this period, including The Dells, whose music appears on the soundtrack. 1991, USA, digital, 121 min.

Introduced by Hanif Abdurraqib.

Content Note: This film contains physical violence, drug and alcohol use, and explicit language.

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