Hip hop and film have always been intertwined, with each medium boiling down to storytelling that immerses listeners and viewers in unique and new points of view. Whereas we’ve had entire conceptual albums influenced by films like American Gangster, often an artist’s tastes and homages to classic characters and scenes boil down to tiny pieces of dialogue that serve as “in-song” interludes or precursors to lyrical subject matter. We sifted through countless instances of the mediums colliding – whether actual dialogue or film scores – for some of our favorites. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
Following part 1, we now present part 2 of our favorite movie samples in hip-hop.
GZA – “Liquid Swords”
Wu-Tang and each individual emcees foray into the solo world further solidified the collective’s love of martial arts movies. GZA’s “Liquid Swords” – which pulled heavily from Shogun Assassin – was actually something he hadn’t seen when RZA was creating the sound for the album. He said, “While we were mastering the album, RZA asked the engineer to go out and get it [the movie] and bring it back to us. That’s when I watched it. I loved it immediately and thought it fit with the album well.”
Jay Z – “Blueprint²”
Foregoing vocal samples for the legendary musical stylings of Ennio Morricone who has written music for more than 500 motion pictures and television series – perhaps most notably for director Sergio Leone – his “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly serves as the haunting basis for Jay Z’s “Blueprint².”
Mobb Deep featuring Nas “It’s Mine” – Scarface
Officially referred to as “Scarface Cues” which was composed by Giorgio Moroder as the title theme for Scarface, it marked the second time that Mobb Deep looked to Brian De Palma’s film for the release of a single – with the first being “G.O.D. Pt. III” which utilized “Tony’s Theme.”
Big Pun featuring Black Thought – “Super Lyrical”
The pairing of Big Pun and The Root’s Black Thought is a sonic, pugilistic-esque affair – with each emcee commanding their bars with precision and power. Perhaps lost in the back and forth is the utilization of Ivan Drago’s single-minded focus in Rocky IV as well as Rocky Balboa’s wife, Adrian, pleading that her husband not fight the hulking Soviet champ.
Beastie Boys “Professor Booty” – Wild Style
The Beastie Boys had no shortage of humor and wit in their music. For “Professor Booty” they laid the foundation for attempting to be Lotharios by using the often sampled Wild Style.
Ghostface – “Fish”
Pulled from Crying Freeman, there’s something downright cinematic about the monologue of a crime boss who asserts, “I control 26,00 men. Except for dope, we operate in all aspects of organized crime. And if there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s that drugs destroy your mind and destroy your home. In the end, it will only lead our country into ruin.”
Little Brother – “Flash and Flare”
Forgoing dialogue samples for a more music-based influence, Little Brother looked to the “Emerald City” sequence from The Wiz for “Flash and Flare” from The Chittlin Circuit 1.5.
Jay Z – “Streets is Watching”
In talking about the utilization of the film Sleepers, producer Ski Beatz said, “Jay couldn’t come up with a hook. That’s why he took the sample from the guy from Sleepers and threw it in there. He was like, ‘This is dope but I don’t know what kind of hook to add to it.’ That movie was good but it was Jay’s idea to use it. He’s definitely a movie buff, anything that had that energy of what he was representing.”
Juggaknots – “Loosifa”
Utilizing the same monologue from Taxi Driver that Xzibit used on “At the Speed of Life,” Juggaknot’s “Loosifa” from Clear Blue Skies serves as the perfect opening for the New York hip-hop trio.
Andre Nickatina – “All Star Chuck Taylors”
While most cinematic samples focus on long, drawn out pieces of dialogue, Andre Nickatina opted for a shorter – albeit just as effective – homage to British crime dramas. While Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch has endless quotable phrases, it was undoubtedly his villain, Brick Top, who stole the show with his sadistic problem solving.
Ice-T – “Money, Power & Women”
As Ice-T’s song title would suggest, Brian De Palma’s Scarface is often used for sampling purposes because the themes of the film fit with the rags-to-riches stories that often explain the rise to superstardom for many that have succeeded in the genre. Tony Montana’s outlook on life is simple: “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”
2Pac – “Death Around the Corner”
“When we were kids, belonging felt good, but having respect, that feels even better.” While your Scarface’s and Goodfellas of the world will always get top-billing when it comes to gangster films, Edward James Olmos‘ portrayal of Montoya Santana on the streets of Los Angeles in American Me is truly a slept on performance in an otherwise terrific film.
Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Break North”
The Ultramagnetic MC’s homage to Star Wars is brief and easy to miss, but in “Break North” you can distinctly hear Moe Luv cutting in lines from the film like Luke Skywalker saying, “We’re goin’ in. We’re goin’ in full-throttle. That oughta keep those fighters off our back.”
Jay Electronica – “Abracadabra”
The song title alone speaks volumes about Jay Electronica’s affinity for Christopher Nolan’s exploration of the rivalry between two magicians in The Prestige. While the ending of the film is bittersweet, the song gives ample attention to Alfred Borden’s attempt to make non-believers question their own opinions on what constitutes “real magic.”
Brother Ali feat. Slug – “Missing Teeth”
Leave it to the Midwestern-repping Rhymesayers camp to showcase the talents of Chicago’s second sons, Elwood and Jake Blues.
Watch the Throne – “Ni**as in Paris”
While Jay Z and Kanye West’s collaboration on Watch the Throne pointed to their affinity for high art and culture, they got an assist from a slightly more lowbrow film, Blades of Glory. Will Ferrell’s Chazz Michael Michaels belts out, “We’re gonna skate to one song and one song only.” When asked about contributing to the song, Ferrell said, ““Kanye reached out to me and I said, ‘Of course,’ I was completely flattered when they asked if they could sample me into the song … and when I heard it for the first time, I just started to laugh because it felt so surreal.”
Bobby Creekwater – “You And What Army”
While Full Metal Jacket suffers a little second act fatigue, it’s truly a hard act to follow after witnessing one of the most demanding and ball busting performances of all-time. R. Lee Ermey‘s Sergeant Hartman is capable of cutting a man down at the knees, so it should come as little surprise that the hip-hop world came beckoning and focused on one of his many memorable rants from the film.
Jay Electronica – “The Pledge”
As the legend goes, after watching Michel Gondry’s critique on modern romance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jay Electronica was so moved by both the film and Jon Brion’s haunting score that he recorded a 32-bar verse with his laptop’s built-in microphone and uploaded it to his MySpace page.
Kid Cudi – “Immortal” – Billy Madison
While most turn to drama or action films to add a little machismo to their records, Kid Cudi has always moved to the beat of his own drummer. Utilizing Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison for “Immortal,” there’s something smirk-worthy about a doofus proclaiming himself to be, “the smartest man in the world” on a song touching on issues relating to immortality.
Jay Z feat. Nas – “Success”
It should come as little surprise that American Gangster – a conceptual album completely based off the film detailing drug kingpin Frank Lucas’ rise to power – would make an appearance.
Celph Titled and Buckwild feat. Apathy, Ryu & Esotetic – “Swashbuckling” – Juice
Part of the genius of Tupac Shakur is that his talents gave him not only the ability to make music, but also inspire music when he decided to trade the microphone for a chance to sharpen his acting chops. Pulled from Juice, the snippet is short and to the point – with ‘Pac’s energy coming through loud and clear.
MF Borat – “Bing Bong Bing”
When it comes to any project with DOOM involved – whether officially or unofficially – there’s always ample room to speculate. Was this an official project? Were Sacha Baron Cohen and DOOM actually friends? Or was this just a great opportunity for a counter clash between the enigmatic DOOM and Borat?
Geto Boys – “Chuckie”
While it would be limiting to simply place the Geto Boys in the horrorcore genre and move on, it’s hard to deny that their influences and execution often boil down to drawing from dark, twisted places. Equal part shocking imagery with often a glimmer of humor, it seems quite fitting that Chuckie gets his due on one of their songs.
The Roots – “Act Won (Things Fall Apart)”
The Roots used the jazz framework in Mo’ Better Blues to examine the criticism that African American support for a homegrown art form can be lackluster. The debate between Denzel Washington and Wesley Snypes is an argument for and against caving into the pressures of doing what’s “popular.”
2 Live Crew – “Me So Horny”
It’s prominent. It’s front and center. It’s perhaps the backbone for the entire song. Coincidentally or not, the “me so horny” sample from Full Metal Jacket isn’t the only sample used in that snippet from the movie. Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” can be heard underneath the sample as it appeared in the original scene in the movie.