Hip-hop and the world of TV and film are synonymous. All three are built on larger-than-life characters acting out some of our wildest dreams and doing things we can only imagine. They can be inspirational, scary, exciting, and sometimes incredibly silly. The worlds collide in various ways but none more prominent than beats. Producers have a long history of sampling themes from movies and TV, either because of nostalgia, the request of the artist, or they’re just too dope not to use. The lists of songs inspired by shows and movies stretches back to the ’80s but some are better than others.
1. Puff Daddy’s “Victory” and Bill Conti’s “Going the Distance” from Rocky
Nothing more needs to be said already, so I won’t. It’s a great flip of Bill Conti’s “Going The Distance” from Rocky , which I’m pretty sure is taught to children at birth now. The song gets extra points for the video itself being a sample of an Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, The Running Man.
2. Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some Mo” and Bernard Hermann’s Psycho theme
This is one of the most ingenuous samples in the history of the game. I said it. It takes one of cinema’s most recognizable tunes, the theme from Psycho, and makes it almost unrecognizable. Once you know it’s Bernard Hermann’s most famous theme, it’s hard to forget it.
3. Method Man’s “The Riddler” and Neal Hefti’s Batman theme
This underrated gem from Method Man and RZA saw the Abbott flipping the famed Batman theme from the 1966 series. Leave it to RZA to turn something lighthearted and fun into an ominous twisted soundscape by slowing it way down and putting his drums over it. Plus, if you’re making a song for a Batman soundtrack, makes sense to dig back into the character’s history.
4. Cam’ron’s “357”and Mike Post’s Magnum P.I. theme
Cam has an affinity for television. He has several joints that could easily take up half this list but it’s the original greatness of the Magnum P.I. theme that puts this one in this spot. “357” reinvents ’80s greatness for the ’90s.
5. Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” and Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever”
The beauty of this one, aside from a dope Kanye performance, is him allowing Shirley Bassey’s original “Diamonds Are Forever” to shine just as bright as he does. Whether it’s for James Bond or Mr. West, there’s no voice like Bassey’s. Not one of the best James Bond movies but the theme more than makes up for it.