Last Updated: August 29th
Any music nerds or history junkies who are looking to hunker down and learn more about the bands behind some of the most well-known rock and pop songs and albums in the world will find plenty to entertain themselves on this often overlooked streaming service. Here are our picks for some of the best Amazon Prime has to offer in the realm of music documentaries.
Biggie & Tupac: The Story Behind The Murder Of Rap’s Biggest Superstars (2005)
When it comes to Biggie Smalls and Tupac, there’s a ton to unpack musically, but quite famously, there’s even more to discuss when it comes to how the two died. That doesn’t mean we know everything about the cases, which are still the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, but in this documentary, Director Nick Broomfield at least explores the questions everybody has. Although he doesn’t always have the answers (because nobody does), he’s clearly unafraid to ask. At the very least, Broomfield inspires queries that viewers may not have yet considered.
Brian Eno — 1971-1977: The Man Who Fell To Earth (2011)
Eno is mostly known today for his ambient work and production for other artists, but just as important to his career are his more rocking days, with his band Roxy Music and his early solo career, from about 1971 to 1977. That’s the window covered by this documentary, which features a ton of information about the man and his work, thanks to interviews with people close to him (and Eno himself). It might not be one to watch all in one sitting, since it runs two-and-a-half hours long, but you can’t say it’s not a comprehensive look at a particularly illustrious period of a particularly illustrious artist.
The Entertainers (2012)
The World Championship Of Old-Time Piano might just sound like some obscure event you’ve never heard of, but the event is ultimately one of the finer examples of a modern effort to keep one of the first pre-eminent American genres of music alive: ragtime. The movie follows six pianists all vying for the top spot in the competition — held annually in Peoria, Illinois for decades now — and explores their love of the genre, its importance, and its influence on modern music. While ragtime might not sound distinctly modern, its performers are some of the most technically skilled pianists out there, and for the speed and dexterity on display alone, The Entertainers is an interesting watch.
Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme (2005)
The best look most people get at freestyle rap nowadays might be the “Freestylin’ With The Roots” segment on The Tonight Show, but there’s really much more to it than that: It’s an artform. Speaking of The Roots, group leader Black Thought is featured in this documentary about the art of freestyling, along with other legends like Mos Def and Jurassic 5. The movie features insider footage that helps to paint a comprehensive portrait of the world of improvisational rap, which should help even the stingiest of hip-hop haters at least realize that there’s an extraordinary level of talent and artistry at play here.