THE BEST HIP-HOP MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS OF ALL TIME
Hip-hop’s influence began to embed itself into the world of cinema during the 1980s, elevating the genre’s status both financially and in popularity among mainstream audiences.
One of the earliest moments in the relationship between hip-hop and cinema arrived in 1989 through director Spike Lee‘s Do The Right Thing. At Lee’s request, Public Enemy wrote the film’s theme song ‘Fight The Power’, a legendary and anthemic rap track that we have cinema to thank for.
From Belly to Boyz n the Hood, there have been hundreds of iconic movies with hip-hop soundtracks since. Selected by our editorial team, here are 9 movies/soundtracks that you need to listen and watch ASAP. Admittedly there are some obvious omissions, so let us know what your favourite is!
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’
Sharing the same name with his iconic 2003 debut album, Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson made his first feature film acting appearance in the semi-autobiographical movie Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. The soundtrack to the 2005 crime drama landed at the height of G-Unit Records’ dominance and featured the label’s own Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, Tony Yayo, Olivia and Mobb Depp. Now 3x certified Platinum, Get Rich or Die Tryin’: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture includes some of 50’s big hits like ‘Hustler’s Ambition’, ‘Window Shopper’ and ‘Best Friend’. The film recounts the most pivotal moments of Curtis Jackson’s early life: from his mother’s passing, selling drugs on the streets of New York City, to even surviving 9 gunshot wounds before becoming one of the most successful rap artists. Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ is one of the most iconic hip-hop movies of the 2000s and its soundtrack is emblematic of its legendary status.
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Hot take: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is the best hip-hop movie soundtrack of all time. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, the long-awaited debut of Miles Morales’ was voiced by Shameik Moore who also played Raekwon in the Hulu show Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Arguably one of the greatest superhero movies, its unique animation style required 140 animators, the largest crew used by Sony Pictures Animations on a feature film. The 13-song soundtrack plus its two remixes, is stacked from top to bottom with features including XXXTentacion, Juice WRLD, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Vince Staples, Denzel Curry, Cordae, Jaden Smith, Ski Mask the Slump God, Ty Dolla $ign and more. Not to mention the lead single ‘Sunflower’ by Post Malone and Swae Lee, which hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and spent over a year on the chart. Released via Republic Records, the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse soundtrack perfectly captured the significance of the moment both to film and hip-hop culture.
Masterminded by Grammy-winning producer Mike Will Made-It, Creed II: The Album serves as one of two soundtracks to the 2018-sequel and eighth instalment in the Rocky franchise. While the other is an original score by Ludwig Göransson, this one is a mammoth collaboration between hip-hop’s heavyweights including Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Young Thug, Nas, and 2 Chainz just to name a few. The 15-track album begins with one of the hardest pre-performance hype up songs in ‘Amen’ by Lil Wayne and then proceeds to ‘Do You Need Power’, the cinematic walk out music by Bon Iver. Ella Mai’s closer ‘Love Me Like That’, and the R&B/hip-hop pairings with Ari Lennox and J. Cole, and Gunna with Tessa Thompson (who stars as Bianca Taylor in the film), provide the more intimate moments in an otherwise fight-ready compilation. It goes without saying but the posse cuts ‘Runnin’ featuring A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, and Nicki Minaj, and ‘F.I.G.H.T’ featuring Eearz, Gucci Mane, YG, Trouble, Quavo, and Juicy J, will have you ready to throw hands.
Released in 2002, 8 Mile was an instant box office hit. The movie was the semi-autobiographical story of the early career of Eminem, and it featured a soundtrack that was just as iconic as the film itself. The movie’s soundtrack, released through Shady Records featured some of the most influential and acclaimed rap music at the time, delivering some of Eminem’s biggest hits. This included songs like ‘Lose Yourself’, ‘Love Me’, and ‘8 Mile’, which earned the movie soundtrack several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The 8 Mile soundtrack was a major commercial success, selling over 700,000 units in its first week and to date over 10 million copies worldwide. 8 Mile was a major influence on the hip-hop culture of the early 2000s, helping to shape the sound of rap for years to come. Eminem’s performance of ‘Lose Yourself’ remains an iconic statement about the power of hip-hop and showcased his talent as an artist to a mainstream, global audience.
U GOT SERVED
The impact that U Got Served and its accompanying soundtrack had upon dance and hip-hop culture in the 2000’s cannot be understated. The 2004 movie directed by Christopher B. Stokes, was a major milestone at the time, combining the worlds of street dance, Hollywood, and the internet. Its soundtrack featured some of the biggest names in R&B and hip-hop, including Omarion‘s B2K, Ja Rule, Mario, and Lil’ Kim. The album reached Number 34 on the Billboard 200, however, its success was far greater than just accolades. U Got Served, both the film and soundtrack, had a ripple effect throughout the hip-hop and dance culture of the 2000’s. The film popularised styles of street dance including ‘jookin’, poppin’, locking, and breaking, as well as hip-hop fashion trends which soon saw records including lead single ‘Badaboom’ by B2K and Fabolous used as the soundtrack to major fashion shows and other events.
Exit Wounds is a 2001 action movie starring Steven Seagal and DMX, and its soundtrack became one of the most iconic hip-hop albums of the 2000s. The movie and its soundtrack were a major success, grossing over $70 million at the box office and in music sales. The soundtrack featured some of the biggest names in the rap and hip-hop world at the time, including DMX, Ja Rule, N.O.R.E., Redman, and even a collaboration between DMX and The Lox. DMX was a major contributor to the soundtrack, appearing on eight of the sixteen tracks, with his legendary Bill Withers interpolation ‘No Sunshine’ charting in the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Top 100 and becoming the famous walkout theme for future UFC Hall Of Famer Anderson Silva. The Exit Wounds soundtrack was one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of the 2000s. It was certified double Platinum and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. The success of the movie and its soundtrack helped to solidify DMX’s place in hip-hop history.
Black Panther was the ultimate showcase of black culture on the biggest stage of them all, so of course it had to have an incredible soundtrack. It’s one of the most iconic Marvel films of all time, and was the first time there had been a black protagonist in such a blockbuster movie. It was also the first Marvel film to have a black director, and a mostly black cast. With over a billion in the box office, it’s among the highest grossing films of all time. Black Panther: The Soundtrack was curated and produced by Kendrick Lamar and Anthony Tiffith, Top Dawg Entertainment‘s co-founder. It was star studded, enlisting artists like SZA, James Blake, Khalid, Future (and MANY more). There was even another collaboration between Travis Scott and Kendrick, helping solidify it as one of greatest movie soundtracks ever. Upon release, songs from the soundtrack flooded the charts, with Future’s verse on ‘Kings Dead’ being an iconic rap moment. RIP Chadwick Boseman.
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
Let’s be honest, the Fast And Furious franchise has taken a steep nose dive and should have ended years ago. But, we can’t forget their previously great movies. There’s been many memorable musical moments throughout their history, see Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth‘s ‘See You Again’, which is literally one of the biggest songs ever. But there was no project like the album to 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious, which featured artists like Young Thug, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black and NBA YoungBoy. ‘Candy Paint’ by Post Malone was the biggest single, and was also enlisted on his sophomore album, beerbongs & bentleys. Another major highlight was the late PnB Rock‘s ‘Horses’ that featured A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Kodak Black. This soundtrack was easily the most electric out of the Fast franchise’s history, and capitalised on the hottest artists on the globe, and the ones that would go on to define future eras of hip-hop.
ABOVE THE RIM
Above The Rim is one of the greatest movies of all time, and it’s soundtrack is up there too. The cast starred some of the most prolific figures in pop culture and hip hop history, with Tupac Shakur as the lead, and co-stars like Duane Martin, Bernie Mac, and Marlon Wayans (to name a few). It’s up there with the best basketball movies of all time, and the soundtrack goes hand-in-hand. Executive produced by the polarising Suge Knight, with Dr Dre acting as supervising producer, this is a moment stamped in time forever. The soundtrack featured iconic names like Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, 2Pac, and iconic producers like DJ Quik and Daz Dillinger. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that – one of the best hip-hop songs ever, and easily the best G-Funk song ever, ‘Regulate’ by Warren G and Nate Dogg also featured on this legendary soundtrack. It released on Death Row Records, and won best soundtrack at the 95′ Soul Train Awards. There’s not much more to be said, except to go watch if you haven’t seen it yet.