“In 1979 a cult classic called “The Warriors” shook the world with its depiction of New York City as a gang infested concrete jungle. Nine years earlier the real story was far worse.” The opening of Shan Nicholson’s documentary, Rubble Kings, sets the scene for his investigation into the rise of gang culture in the late ’60s. Using archive footage and interviews with some of the key players he tells a compelling story, both stylishly and with a keen sense of momentum.

From 1968 to 1975 gangs ruled New York City. As the hope inspired by the Civil Rights Movement gradually faded away with the deaths of Reverend King, Malcolm X and Bobby Kennedy. The void in the poverty stricken Bronx was filled by the emergence of groups of youths, brought together by mutual bonds. As gang culture spread and violence reached almost breaking point in the rubble-strewn streets, calm was restored in the most unlikely fashion.

Rubble Kings travels at breakneck speed through the cultural factors allowing for the emergence of a gang culture which eventually evolved into the birth of hip hop. Nicholson does a great job of intertwining the archive footage with interviews from former gang members and musical pioneers. Rubble Kings is an important work of cultural history, telling a story of how good can come from even the most abject circumstances.

The Rubble Kings is out in cinemas on Friday.