Words By Corey Bloom, T.C., Patrick M. & Darius Sinclairâ„¢
A good movie can make for a captivating experience. Quality acting combined with an emotive storyline can draw audiences into a pseudo realm of reality that can be impressionable beyond belief. But think about your favorite scene from the last movie you saw for a second. Did the music in the background make it that much better? Probably so. A good score is crucial to a scene’s effectiveness for it heightens the emotions to make the movie even more capable of being a success. As a proven heavyweight in the musical world, Hip-Hop has been known to assist in some of Tinseltown’s memorable moments. We here at TSS have compiled a few of our favorite joints that really elevated their respective films. This is not a “be all, end all” list by any means & we would love to hear any mentions that you feel should be included.
Eric B & Rakim – “Know The Ledge” from the Juice OST (1992)
Albeit one of the more obvious choices for this list, Eric B & Rakim’s highly charged cliffhanger (pun intended) was more than appropriate for token maniac Bishop’s demise. Over an extended chase that took place in alleys and rooftops, Rakim’s sharp lyrics helped make Tupac Shakur’s character a legendary villain. It probably didn’t hurt the sales of Don’t Sweat The Technique either.
Spice 1 – “Born II Die” from Tales From The Hood OST (1995)
“I recommend when your child turns ten/let him hear Spice 1…” – Nas
I don’t think so. If a psychopath ever needed some tunes for the road, brilliantly deranged Spice 1’s “Born II Die” would set the mix CD off nicely. Appearing at one of the key points in this quasi-horror flick, the late Lamont Bentley’s character Crazy K is attempting to be rehabilitated from his murderous lifestyle by being submitted to various images depicting racial hatred in the worst way. Spice 1’s graphic storytelling ironically make the scene….acceptable…geesh!
Scarface – “No Tears” from the Office Space OST (1999)
How ironic is it that a Scarface song can be used to ignite humor? Well the brain that brought us Beavis & Butthead pulled it off rather easily. Mike Judge’s true-to-life comedy about a dysfunctional workplace was a hit with many cultures, and rightfully so. Here we have a character who’s a closet hip-hop fan, ironically namded Michael Bolton, stuck in traffic but, luckily he’s got The Diary in rotation. But, it gets silly when he bitches up after locking eyes with a Black guy while he’s blasting a song laced with N-Bombs! Gotta love it.
Honorable Mention – Geto Boys – “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster”
Mobb Deep – “Shook Ones Pt. II” from the the 8 Mile OST (2002)
When a director chooses to score a particular song into the first frame of the picture, they are taking a risk. For better or worse, the song will set for the viewer the time and place of the narrative, as well as to give clues to the theme and plot of the film. If the movie doesn’t follow up on the storyline set out by the song, it begins a cycle of disharmony that can ruin a film. Too often, directors don’t think of these repercussions when making the film.
The use of “Shook Ones Pt. 2” in 8 Mile is one of the best examples ever of setting a narrative with a scored song. Immediately, we were aware of the time frame (1995) and the setting (poor, innercity) Moreover, the use of one of the most paranoid, haunting, beats in rap’s history tied in perfectly to the themes of the movie – urban decay, personal claustrophobia & societal misfortune. Additionally, it acted as a message to skeptics that this was a movie made by people who at least knew their hip-hop.
Public Enemy – “Fight The Power” from the Do The Right Thing OST(1989)
“Fight The Power” was such an integral piece of Do The Right Thing, it was played at almost every turn in the movie (15 times according to Wikipedia). From the opening scene with Rosie Perez pouring her soul into an unforgettable dance solo, to the most pivotal point with the death of Radio Raheem and ultimately Mookie doing as the movies title suggests, “Fight The Power” was the the embodiment of the entire movie. After first appearing on the movies soundtrack, and later on their third album Fear of the Black Planet, the song was even further immortalized by the music video. The song itself elicits such raw emotion, but the visuals that it carries thanks to the movie and video are forever scribed in the memories of millions.
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Big Poppa” from the Hardball OST (2001)
“Throw ya hands in the ai-ya/ If you’s a true playa…”
That phrase never loses its luster. Hip-hop plays a role in some peoples’ lives to where it outlives their religious faith. The songs become their hymns, if you will. Some people learn the words to their favorite songs, better than their school work. We’d all be straight A kids when it comes to Biggie’s lyrics though. The songs from Ready To Die are already etched in many fans’ heads, explicitly enough thanks to Christopher Wallace’s attention to detail. With the help of movies, however, one gets a different impact from these songs. Films are different because they utilize your visuals as well as your ear drums. And when a favorite character embraces the song, it brings llisteners more into the events being portrayed. Remember the movie Hardball, with Keanu Reeves? For some, it was a cheesy kiddy movie jacking the Bad News Bears idea.
The rest saw a deeper story of a gambling addict who actually has a heart or of a realistic illustration of living in violent projects and how some of the less fortunate miss those golden opportunities because no one cares. The memorable gag was the team pitcher’s fascination of Biggie’s “Big Poppa.” The pitcher, super quiet after witnessing his father being murdered, always listens to “Big Poppa” in his Walkman. When pitching & listening to the song, the boy goes on a kill-streak. Any lover of music can immediately connect with the character in regards to needing music to do best in stressful situations (working out, stress with relationships) and choosing a popular song only makes the scene more believable. Even, everybody’s favorite slugger David Ortiz uses the song when he’s on the path towards breaking the Red Sox’s career homerun record. Everyone has songs like this that hype them up. For this movie, it played a perfect role in making the young pitcher’s throwing arm turn into gold. Word to Poppa.
Download and listen to all of the tracks mentioned?