While youth may think rap has always been a part of mainstream music, they may not not know the history. There are some rap lovers, too young to know that the genre was seen as a threat to American values. They know even less of the struggles that originators of the genre had in pushing rap forward, from underground sub-culture status, and into mainstream.
Rap music started from the streets with artists telling stories through rhymes (poems) about growing up through hard times. Jay-Z and Tupac, both cut tracks without holding back about starting from the bottom. Other rappers followed suit with some being questioned if their claims didn’t add up. Krush Groove (1985) set the scene, as the first rap sound track to be used in a major motion picture film. Loosely based on the life of rap mogul Russell Simmons, the film’s cast included, Simmons and Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys and LL Cool J.
10) Queen Latifah – ”U.N.I.T.Y.” – Girlstown
Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y., was the opening song for the independent film, Girlstown. When Nikki, played by a young, Aunjanue L. Ellis is raped and commits suicide, her best friends have her back. They swipe her diary from her room, while visiting her mother to offer condolences. Determined to find out the real reason behind their friend’s pain, they make nice with a mother who shows little emotion over the tragic loss of her only child. The book holds the answers and together, they confront and physically assault Nikki’s attacker. The teens become an all-girl vigilante crew, committed to taking down males who show female disrespect. Nikki’s death makes their bond tighter, and they finally share personal secrets that they had withheld from each other. They learned to support one another, love and fight for the right to be young women, in a world run by men. Latifah’s Black Reign album produced U.N.I.T.Y in 1993 and the single was released in January 1994. It blew up on the charts, earning her a Grammy Award. The track represents a stand against domestic violence, abuse and disrespect of women.
9) Bobby Brown – ”On Our Own” – Ghostbusters 2
A good match for the movie that turned ordinary men, into ghost-catching heroes. One never knows just how strong they are, until faced with a situation that causes a person to stretch and use creativity to make something unique happen. That’s the scenario with this throw back film. The movie’s soundtrack is a catchy number performed by Bobby Brown. As the song suggests, sometimes life leaves you, ‘On Your Own’ to work things out. When done properly, even the scariest of ghosts don’t stand a chance.
8) Eric B. & Rakim – ”Know the Ledge”- The Ledge
Eric B and Rakim put their ‘New York B-Boy’ style down for the movie’s theme song. The Ledge is about finding your truth, sticking by your friend and making dreams come true, no matter how elusive they may appear. Banging beats with a DJ, allows movie goers a peek into what makes a good DJ more than a passing thing. Tupac plays a shady friend with too many problems, and not enough solutions. Pac and Epps team up to win a DJ contest, despite Pac’s narcissistic ways, and bring the noise and the (know) ‘ledge’ to handle the too oft corrupt street music scene.
7) Erykah Badu Feat. Common – ”Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip-Hop)”- Brown Sugar
When did you first fall in love with Hip-Hop? is the title of a magazine article by Sidney (Syd) Shaw, played by Sanaa Lathan. The query is for her readership, but is also one she asks herself, as she revisits her journey and long time love affair with hip-hop. Co-star, Taye Diggs plays Lanthan’s best friend, Dre Ellis. Friends since childhood, when the first beats of hip-hop hit Brooklyn, they learn that their love of music and each other has stood the test of time. One of the best hip-hop/rap sound tracks around.
6) Mista Grimm Feat. Warren G. & Nate Dogg – “Indo Smoke” from Poetic Justice
Janet Jackson played her Poetic Justice role so well that co-star, Tupac actually fell for her, after their on screen kiss. When filming was complete, Tupac tried for an off-screen romance. Media reports, the re-known Ms. Jackson was not at all interested, and changed her phone number to avoid his calls. The song, “Indo Smoke” was an interesting choice, since Tupac’s character did not indulge, a requirement for keeping his postal worker government job.
5) B-Real, Coolio, Method Man, LL Cool J & Busta Rhymes – “Hit ‘Em High” (The Monstars Anthem) Space Jam
This hip-hop jam features some of the top dogs in the rap game. A great effort in bringing together animation and celebrity with Michael Jordan. Full of street cred that involves a basketball court, big scary space creatures and the driving force of hot beats. A winning combination that adults didn’t mind sitting through with kids. What true basketball fan can turn down a good game and slamming beats?
4) Scarface – “No Tears” from the Office Space
A self-described nerd, who happens to be a white male, who loves gangsta rap. Office Space tells his story and teaches the lesson of not judging a book by its cover. Banging beats are reserved for those who like their music exploding with bass. So, “boom!”
3) Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – “Days Of Our Livez” from Set It Off
The melodic sounds and harmonizing over def beats provided by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, set it off in the movie with the same name. The all girl crew featuring Queen Latifah, Kimberly Elise, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Vivica Fox remains an oldie but goodie. Ladies can only take so much disrespect before things get crazy. Planning a crime spree done to hot beats, with cool chicks carrying smoking guns, turned the tables on the game. Set it Off showed that women can, and will, get down and dirty when necessary.
2) Public Enemy – ”Fight the Power” – Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee used Public Enemy’s, “Fight the Power” and paired it with a lean mean dancing Rosie Perez as the movie’s opener. Dressed in 80’s gear, she brought attitude and a strong will, using choreography from her professional dance career to emphasize the need for cultural change. The song packed with hard lyrics and harder beats worked well to show frustrations of the people who lived, worked and played together on a scorching hot summer day, that ended in a death of Radio Raheem. ”Fight the Power” is labeled by hip-hop, as a revolutionary change maker in the game. The movie also deals with diversity and the need for understanding different cultures, within popular culture. Written and directed by Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing has stood the test of time when it comes to people who breathe the same air. It implores the masses to work out the differences that exist, by taking note of the common threads that make community important.
1) Threat – “Lettin’ Aggins Know” – Friday
Friday aired so many times that it reached cult status. If you can’t recite movie lines, along with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, then you haven’t watched it enough. One question remains, how does a person get fired on their off day? The movie contains a lot of rap music. Chocked full of rap artists, Friday includes tracks by Threat, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, 2-Live Crew, Dr. Dre, Funk Doobiest, Mack 10 and Scarface. If you love rap, Friday has something for you to bounce and pop your collar to.