Hip-hop has no shortage of trends; some have stuck while others just come and go. Two days ago I was on twitter wondering what happened to everyone’s throwback sports jerseys, it’s a damn shame what happened to Mitchell & Ness. And at times I wonder what’s gonna be next after Auto-Tune is completely played out. Still, one of my favorite hip-hop trends was the sampling of TV Show and movie theme songs.
In the late ‘90’s a gang of rap acts (mostly from N.Y.) stopped diggin’ in the crates and started looking to the boob tube for inspiration. Here are some of my favorites. – Rob the Music Ed
Killarmy “Wake Up” - I remember absolutely losing my mind when the RZA sampled “The Incredible Hulk” theme song for Killarmy’s “Wake Up” off of their 1997 debut Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars. The rhymes were so-so to def, but overall the Shoalin soldiers delivered a pretty dope album and to think if it wasn’t for the Hulk I probably would have never picked it up.
Cam’Ron “357” – Before he was all cookies and apple juice’d out, Killa made his 1998 splash over a flip of the “Magnum P.I.” opening theme. Producer Digga slowed down the sample, looped it up and added some hard ass kicks underneath. But what really put this joint over the top was Cam’s lyrics; “I leave a nigga black and blue like a pair of Pennys” is still one of my favorite rap lines EVER!
Busta Rhymes “Turn It Up/Fire It Up” Remix – By the time, Busta Rhymes recorded this late ‘90’s banger the trend was already in full-swing, so sampling “Knight Rider” seemed to be a pretty obvious choice. It would’ve been dope if the Dungeon Dragon could’ve got Michael Knight for the post-apocalyptic video, oh well. This was illy nonetheless!
Three 6 Mafia “Who Give A Fuck Where You From” – Real talk: If you’re still fronting on Three 6 Mafia, you’re straight up rapper racist. The homie Jackpot reminded me of this BANGER off of Kay Slay’s 2004 Streetsweeper Vol. 2: The Pain From The Game album. For the lead single Paul and Juice flipped the “Transformers” theme song into a crunked up anthem. Listen again, because if you weren’t paying attention you’re sure to miss it.
Ghostface “Good Times” – I’m not sure what happened to this joint. I’m assuming that GFK couldn’t clear the sample, but somewhere around 2001 Pretty Toney rocked over a flip of the “Good Times” theme song. I remember buying the white label 12-inch off of some website. I had the song on a Kay Slay mixtape, but couldn’t stand all the fucking drops. This song is DY-NO-MITE!
Jay-Z “People’s Court” – “Hard Knock Life” is no doubt Hov’s greatest theatrical flip, but “People’s Court” joint is a hidden gem. Originally recorded for Vol.2, “People’s Court” ended up on the cutting room floor, but then soon surfaced on DJ Clue’s Backstage soundtrack.
Cage “Agent Orange” – NY underground mainstay Necro looked to Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” to help lace Cage’s indie debut. ‘Til this day this remains one of the greatest hip-hop cinematic flips. Plus Cage’s weird-yet-dope rhymes made this 12-inch an underground classic. Dude said, “I’ll fuck your head up like cornrows put in by blind giants” and has been doing just that ever since.
Cam’Ron “Let Me Know” & “Harlem Streets” – Okay Killa officially owns this category. In addition to the “Magnum P.I.” flip, Cam and producer Digga rocked over the Monday Night Football theme for 2000’s “Let me Know,” but he didn’t stop there. In 2004 he flipped “Hill Street Blues” for “Harlem Streets.” Still it isn’t all good, as hip-hop hasn’t completely forgiven Cam for his wack rendition of the “Night Court” theme on the “Horse and Carriage” remix—aside from the Pun verse there was NOTHING good about that song. Oh yeah and props to Jesse for pointing out Killa’s “Ghetto Facts of Life,” even if the song was a complete and utter FAIL!
Souls of Mischief “Cab Fare”- You can never really front on Bob James because he’s provided hip-hop with the illest samples hands down. Still when it came to the Souls of Mischief’s banger “Cab Fare,” Mr. Mardi Gras refused to clear the rights. Who would’ve thought the theme song to a sitcom starring Danny DeVito and Andy Kaufman could be so hip-hop. Go figure.
Mobb Deep “G.O.D. Part III” & “It’s Mine” – Hip-hop and Scarface go hand and hand, so any Tony Montana jacks are to be expected, but maybe Mobb Deep’s Havoc went too far. On both 1996’s “G.O.D. Part III” and 1999’s “It’s Mine,” Havoc put his MPC 2000 to work sampling from the cult classic flick not once, but twice. Luckily the results on both were illy, even though to this day I still wonder what the fuck Nas was doing at the Barbara Streisand concert. That ain’t gangsta.
Curren$y “The Jet-Son” – My most favorite flip of late has been by XXL Freshman alum Curren$y. On his latest album This Ain’t No Mixtape, the homie Spitta and his FS Jets Squad rocked over “The Jetsons” theme song. To say that newcomer Monsta Beatz killed this is an understatement, obliterate is a much better word.