Top 15 of the best Hip Hop Soundtracks

Top 15 of the best Hip Hop Soundtracks

Can a film be without music? Even if we go back to the creation of cinema, films have always been accompanied by music, even in the era of silent films. You can’t imagine a film without music. Music dictates the mood of a film, its universe, its atmosphere, the strong moments, the stressful moments, the romantic moments. By listening to the music, you can already get an idea of the content. What would a horror movie be without the bursts of music that burst into our eardrums to suddenly surprise us? What would a romantic film be without melodious songs? What would a Western be without its enchanting flutes? Music is an essential element of a film, and the soundtrack must be carefully crafted by a music professional.

Some composers have proven to be among the greatest soundtrack producers with their own specialties and universes. We can mention Ennio Morricone, known for his work in the greatest Westerns of Sergio, among others, with compositions for films such as The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West or more recently Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Another great composer who has distinguished himself with the soundtracks of Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, John Williams has made iconic films by his compositions with Star Wars, Jaws, ET the Extraterrestrial, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park or Harry Potter. Danny Elfman is another great film composer with his work for Tim Burton on Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland or even Spiderman or Men In Black. More eclectic, Hans Zimmer can also have his place among the greatest composers with realizations like Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Tears of the Sun or Christopher Nolan’s films with The Dark Night Trilogy, Inception or Interstellar.

Rap is not, at first sight, the music of choice for films. However, since the creation of rap, filmmakers and directors have seized the genre to create soundtracks. Finally, rap music has been revealed as having a sufficiently varied sound to allow itself to appear in a good number of film genres. Even if gangsta rap has become the music of choice for films about street culture in the 90s with the soundtracks of Death Row, other types of films have appropriated the genre, for example Kung-Fu films with the compositions of RZA, action films (Fast & Furious, Bad Boys, Romeo Must Die, Cradle To The Grave) or even comedies (A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, High School High)

Below, we look back at the fifteen best rap soundtracks:

15. Gridlock’d: The Soundtrack (1997)

Genre: Comedy/Crime

Director: Vondie Curtis-Hall

Resume: Gridlock is about the life of a music group addicted to heroin. After one of them overdoses, the other two decide to stop consuming. The two addicts try to avoid the police and gangs and the government that prevents them from entering a rehabilitation program

Tracks like:

  • Wanted Dead or Alive, 2Pac feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Val Young
  • Why, Nate Dogg
  • Off the Hook, Snoop Doggy Dogg feat. Charlie Wilson, Val Young, James DeBarge
  • Don’t Try to Play Me Homey, Dat Niggaz Daz
  • It’s Over Now, Danny Boy

14. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ : Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (2005)

Genre: Biopic/Crime

Director: Jim Sheridan

Resume: Biopic tracing the life in the streets of New York of the rapper 50 Cent, looking back on his youth as a drug dealer to get to fame

Tracks like:

  • Hustler’s Ambition, 50 Cent
  • Have a Party, Mobb Deep feat. 50 Cent & Nate Dogg
  • Window Shopper, 50 Cent
  • When Death Becomes You, M.O.P. feat. 50 Cent
  • Get Low, Lloyd Banks

13. 8 Mile : Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (2002)

Genre: Biopic/Drama

Director: Curtis Hanson

Resume: A biopic about the life of Marshall Mathers (Eminem) who came from a poor family and struggled to make it on the streets of Detroit

Tracks like:

  • Lose Yourself, Eminem
  • Wanksta, 50 Cent
  • 8 Miles and Runnin’, Jay-Z feat. Freeway
  • Battle, Gang Starr
  • Time of My Life, Macy Gray

12. Ildewild (2006)

Genre: Film musical

Director: Bryan Barber

Resume: The film features the two Outkast as PJ and Rooster, friends since childhood. In the 1930s, the two childhood friends meet in 1935 where they play music, piano and singing, in the middle of their adventures surrounded by mobsters

Tracks like:

  • Idlewild Blue, Outkast
  • Call the Law, Outkast feat. Janelle Monáe
  • Morris Brown, Outkast feat. Scar and Sleepy Brown
  • The Train, Outkast feat. Sleepy Brown and Scar
  • Chronomentrophobia, Outkast

11. Oz: The Soundtrack (2001)

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Director: Tom Fontana

Resume: In an experimental unit at the prison, the head of the unit, Tim McManus, believes in rehabilitation and learning responsibility during incarceration, rather than applying purely punitive measures

Tracks like:

  • Behind the Walls, Kurupt feat. Nate Dogg
  • Land of Oz, Snoop Dogg feat. KoKane
  • What Is the Law, Pharoahe Monch
  • War Wit Us, Three 6 Mafia
  • Oz Theme 2000, Kool G Rap, Lord Jamar & Talib Kweli

10. He Got Game (1998)

Genre: Drama/Sport

Director: Spike Lee

Resume: The film features a high school basketball player sought after by the top college basketball programs in the country while his father serves a prison sentence for accidentally killing his wife

Tracks like:

  • He Got Game, Public Enemy feat. Stephen Stills
  • Unstoppable, Public Enemy feat. KRS-One
  • Is Your God a Dog, Public Enemy
  • House of the Rising Son, Public Enemy
  • Politics of the Sneaker Pimps, Public Enemy

9. Soul In The Hole (1997)

Genre: Biopic/Sport

Director: Daniel Gardner

Resume: A biopic about basketball coach Kenny Jones and the relationship between him and his players

Tracks like:

  • Diesel, Wu-Tang Clan
  • You Ain’t a Killer, Big Pun
  • A Child Is Born, Brand Nubian
  • Late Night Action, Organized Konfusion
  • Rare Species (Modus Operandi), Mobb Deep

8. Friday (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1995)

Genre: Comedy

Director: F. Gary Gray

Resume: Friday is a comedy about a young man who has just been fired. He spends Friday smoking weed with his best friend who is a drug dealer, drugs he was supposed to sell…

Tracks like:

  • Friday, Ice Cube
  • Friday Night, Scarface and CJ Mac
  • Keep Their Heads Ringin’, Dr. Dre and Nancy Fletcher
  • You Got Me Wide Open, Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell
  • Roll It Up, Light It Up, Smoke It Up,  Cypress Hill

7. Tales From the Hood (1995)

Genre: Horror/Comedy

Director: Rusty Cundieff

Resume: A horror/comedy film that presents four stories about issues affecting the African American community, police corruption, domestic violence, racism and gang violence

Tracks like:

  • Born II Die, Spice 1
  • One Less Nigga, MC Eiht
  • Tales from the Hood,  Domino and Tha Chill
  • Ol’ Dirty’s Back, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and 12 O’Clock
  • From the Dark Side, Gravediggaz

6. Menace II Society (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1993)

Genre: Drama

Director: The Hughes Brothers

Resume: When two young people want to buy a bottle of alcohol in a Korean grocery store, a feud breaks out between the two young people and the grocer, suspecting them of wanting to steal. In the process, they kill the store owners and run away with the cash register

Tracks like:

  • Streiht Up Menace, MC Eiht
  • Lick Dem Muthaphuckas, Brand Nubian
  • Death Becomes You, Pete Rock, CL Smooth & YG’z
  • Pocket Full of Stones, UGK
  • Can’t Fuck Wit a Nigga, DJ Quik, J.F.N. & KK

5. Juice (1991)

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

Resume: The film looks at the lives of four young black men growing up in Harlem, following their daily activities, their struggles with police harassment, rival gangs and their families

Tracks like:

  • Uptown Anthem, Naughty By Nature
  • Juice, Eric B & Rakim
  • Nuff Respect, Big Daddy Kane
  • It’s Going Down, EPMD
  • Don’t Be Afraid, Aaron Hall

4. Boyz n the Hood (Music From the Motion Picture) (1991)

Genre: Drama

Director: John Singleton

Resume: The film follows the life of a young teenager who wants to go to college to become a professional soccer player. However, life in the South Central ghetto with his gangster friends seems to keep him from that path

Tracks like:

  • How to Survive in South Central, Ice Cube
  • Just a Friendly Game of Baseball, Main Source
  • Me and You, Tony! Toni! Toné!
  • Hangin’ Out,  The 2 Live Crew
  • Growin’ Up in the Hood, Compton’s Most Wanted

3. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – The Album (1999)

Genre: Crime

Director: Jim Jarmush

Resume: The film features the mysterious “Ghost Dog”, a hitman in the service of the mafia, who follows the ancient samurai code

Tracks like:

  • Strange Eyes, Sunz of Man, 12 O’Clock & Blue Raspberry
  • Cakes, Kool G Rap feat. RZA
  • East New York Stamp, Jeru The Damaja and Afu-Ra
  • The Man, Masta Killa & Superb
  • 4 Sho Sho, North Star feat. RZA

2. Above the Rim – The Soundtrack (1994)

Genre: Sport

Director: Jeff Polack

Resume: The film tells the story of a promising high school basketball star in New York, with his relationships with a drug dealer and a former basketball star. Today he is employed as a security guard at the high school where he was a promising young star years ago

Tracks like:

  • Regulate, Nate Dogg & Warren G
  • Pour Out a Little Liquor, 2Pac & Thug Life
  • Afro Puffs, The Lady of Rage feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg
  • Didn’t Mean to Turn You On, 2nd II None
  • Gonna Give It to Ya, Jewell feat. Aaron Hall

1. Murder Was the Case (1994)

Genre: Drama/Crime

Director: Dr. Dre & Fab Five Freddy

Resume: Murder Was The Case is a short film about the fictional death of Snoop Dogg after a neighborhood feud and his resurrection after making a deal with the devil

Tracks like:

  • Murder Was the Case, Snoop Doggy Dogg
  • Natural Born Killaz, Dr. Dre & Ice Cube
  • One More Day, Nate Dogg
  • Dollaz + Sense,  DJ Quik
  • Horny, B-Rezell

Special mentions : Sunset Park, Belly, How High, The Player’s Club, CB4, Gang Related, Cradle To The Grave, The Wash.

See you in the comment section for your favorite Hip Hop soundtracks!

By Grégoire Zasa

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