The film stars a young busboy named Cyrus who dreams of being a hip-hop rapper, but the words of his peers and his pastor father make it seem as though he would never succeed. Under the name "Truth", he enters a contest sponsored by the same music label that once hired a childhood friend of his (named "Roxy" Andrews). However, due to a mistake when looking at the photograph Cyrus sent in, it is his best friend Kris that ends up with the glory. At first, Cyrus accepts staying in the background and helping Kris try to win Roxy's heart, but he eventually gains some self-respect, learns to stand up for himself, convinces his father that hip-hop can be a positive thing, and succeeds at his dream.
This film features the following Tropes:
- Battle Rapping: The final scene has Cyrus rapping against Lord of Da Bling, the former prevailing in the process after revealing the latter's secret as a taxi cab driver.
- Extreme Doormat: Cyrus is too much of a Nice Guy for his own good. He actually lets Kris claim his contest entry as his own just so that Kris can have a chance with Roxy, even though he has a crush on her himself.
- Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: Cyrus, the protagonist of the film, is so plagued by self-doubt and shyness that he lets his friend steal his rightful spotlight and alias. Meanwhile, the rapping champion, Bling, is incredibly arrogant and boastful, bragging about his wealth and talent while treating everyone else like dirt. In their Rap Battle, Bling spends his verses trying to tear down Cyrus's self-esteem but gets defeated when Cyrus exposes his secret to the audience, making it impossible for him to continue being arrogant once everyone knew he wasn't actually rich.
- Mistaken Identity: Roxy comes to believe that Kris is Truth, when it's actually Cyrus.
- Monochrome Casting: About 85% of the cast is black.
- Mythology Gag: A deleted scene from the extended edition (advertised in trailers on Disney Channel) shows Cyrus facing off against Bling in a rap battle and utterly schooling him, which is capped off by Cyrus saying "That's ten better disses than you, I beat myself, something you couldn't do." This is no doubt a modern take on the famous scene in Cyrano de Bergerac where Cyrano berates a passer-by for failing to insult him in a creative enough fashion.
- Preacher's Kid: Cyrus, which is part of the reason why his dream seems almost unreachable- his father is so religious and opposed to rap music that Cyrus has to sneak out just to work at the club.