Characteristics include hip hop music (including gangsta rap), street gangs, racial discrimination, organized crime, gangster, gang affiliation scenes, broken families, drug use and trafficking, and the problems of young people coming of age or struggling amid the relative poverty and violent gang activity within such neighborhoods.
Critic Murray Forman notes that the "spatial logic" of hip-hop culture, with heavy emphasis on place-based identity, locates "black youth urban experience within an environment of continual proximate danger", and this quality defines the hood film. In a 1992 essay in Cineaction, Canadian critic Rinaldo Walcott identified the hood film's primary concerns as issues of masculinity and "(re)gaining manhood for black men".
Among the directors who have made films in this genre are John Singleton, Mario Van Peebles, F. Gary Gray, Hughes Brothers, and Spike Lee. The genre has also been parodied with such films as Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. The genre reached the height of its popularity in the '90s due to the acclaim of the films New Jack City, Boyz n the Hood, Juice and Menace II Society. With the plethora of films both dramas and comedies, hood films of the '90s are in a sense neo-Blaxploitation films and Mexploitation films.
- African-American neighborhood
- L.A. Rebellion-alternative independent black cinema during the 70s-90s
- List of Hood films
- Murray Forman (2002). The 'Hood Comes First: race, space, and place in rap and hip-hop. Wesleyan University Press.
- John McCullough (2006). "Rude and the Representation of Class Relations in Canadian Film". Working on Screen: Representations of the Working Class in Canadian Cinema. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802093882.
- "Menace II Society" – Cineaste
- Which Way to the Promised Land?: Spike Lee's Clockers and the Legacy of the African American City, Paula J. Massood, African American Review, Summer 2001
- Lowering the bar: State of black film at the moment