20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

BYLloyd Jaffe37.9K Views
Link Copied to Clipboard!
We look at 20 dope hip-hop tracks made specifically for movies on the big screen.

On paper, recording a song for a film soundtrack is considered the ultimate form of selling out. The music itself is literally used as promotional material for a larger product. Music money is big, but movie money is on another level (ask Ludacris, who hasn't released an album since "Fast Five"). That being said, let's remove the negative stigma generally associated with the term "selling out" and call soundtrack inclusions what they really are: a honing in on a given artist's particular skill set to create something universally appealing to an established fan base. Studios want to produce music that a film's target demographic is going to talk about. So, depending on the scope of the project, the goals of this process vary from creating smash hit singles for major pictures (pop music for pop movies) to releasing genre classics for smaller indie flicks. As long as the music gets people talking, it succeeds.

The following 20 songs represent not only some of the most accessible music created by the performers involved, but also some of the best songs in hip-hop music. 


"Regulate" - Warren G & Nate Dogg

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

One of those rare soundtrack inclusions that transcended commercialism and became an indisputable genre classic, "Regulate" became a career highlight for the artists involved and launched Warren G's career. The track was later included on the appropriately titled Regulate... G Funk Era, which was certified 3X platinum by the RIAA.

"Shake Ya Tailfeather" - Nelly, Murphy Lee & Diddy

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

Anyone who follows the film industry knows that when Michael Bay does anything, Michael Bay does it big. Big explosions, big robots, big (you know), and, of course, a big soundtrack. As of late, Mr. Bay (or his producers, rather) has pretty much signed an exclusive deal with Linkin Park to handle all of their major radio singles. But, before "What I've Done," there was "Shake Ya Tailfeather." Take that ass to the flo.

"Grand Finale" - DMX, Nas, Method Man & Ja Rule

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

From BELLY

Although "Belly" may not be considered one of the best street flicks (film critics have abhorred it since its release in 1998, reviewing it quite poorly). That being said, not everything that has to do with the film is a travesty. Case in point: "Grand Finale." With a line-up for the ages (what up, Ja Rule?) and some top-notch production, it eases over the pain caused by Nas' questionable acting. Some music video directors have made successful transitions into the world of feature films (Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry being the prime examples); Hype Williams is not one of those directors.

"End of the Road" - Boyz II Men

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

"Classic" is an understatement when it comes to this throwback. Boyz II Men landed a lot of smashes in their day but, if one track finds itself head-to-head with "I'll Make Love To You" for the title of best R&B song of the 90s, this is the one. Written and produced by Babyface with LA Reid, the song landed at the top of the Billboard charts and resulted in a commercial re-release of the group's debut album Cooleyhighharmony. The track's inclusion brought re-release sales from the thousands to 9,000,000. The re-release would be certified 9X platinum. 

"Independent Woman Pt. 1" - Destiny's Child

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

It was only fitting that a film about a group of female super-spies would produce a track from a group of female super-stars. "Independent Woman Pt. 1" would also be included in the group's junior album Survivor.

"Gangsta's Paradise" - Coolio

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

One of the best selling singles of all time, "Gangsta's Paradise" was originally performed and written as a solo single for L.V. for his debut album but, after being commissioned for the film, Coolio came around and made it his own--altering the lyrics to fit with the themes of the film. The song is notable for being one of the few hip-hop tracks without profanity to win a Grammy award (read: one of the few mainstream hip-hop songs not to use profanity period)."

"Happy" - Pharrell

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

2014's most infectious single actually took almost 6 months to make an impact on the charts. Produced and written by Pharrell himself, the song was initially released in June of 2013 as an inclusion on the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2, a film that the artist also scored alongside Heitor Pereira. The single, alongside guest features on the chart-topping "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky," would result in a resurgence of Skateboard P as a solo artist. His latest album, G I R L, has sold 242,000 copies since this past March.

"100 Black Coffins" - Rick Ross

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

When Quentin Tarentino was tasked with making his first original soundtrack for "Django Unchained", Jamie Foxx swiftly convinced the director to call in a favor from Ricky Rozay. Say what you will about The Boss, "100 Black Coffins" was an instant classic.

"We Own It" - 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

A reader-favorite here at HNHH, "We Own It" provided the background for one of the cheesiest (or most fun, depending on who you are) opening credit sequences in movie history. There's nothing quite like seeing Vin Diesel, Palk Walker and The Rock walking on the beach in slow motion to 2 Chainz. This one of two tracks from the "Fast & Furious" franchise that ended up on this list. Chapter 7 has a lot to live up to.

"Fight the Power" - Public Enemy

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

A classic drama about race relations, Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" established the young director as one of the industry's most captivating voices. Appropriately then that the film be backed by one of hip-hop's most acclaimed singles. Unlike the other songs on this list, "Fight the Power" was actually recorded at the request of the director himself, not the studio. A second version of the song was released on Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet.

"Hustler's Ambition" - 50 Cent

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

"Get Rich or Die Tryin'"(the film) didn't quite reach the heights of Get Rich or Die Tryin' (the album). Neither did it's counterpart, the Get Rich or Die Tryin' (the soundtrack). But not hitting classic status by no means makes the soundtrack bad (or the film, for that matter). In fact, it's one of the stronger entries in 50's catalogue. "Hustler's Ambition" is everything people loved about the old 50. Hard-hitting tales of the streets over knocking production courtesy of relative unknown B-Money, the single stormed the charts alongside the more radio-friendly "Window Shopper."

"It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" - Three 6 Mafia

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

Believe it or not, before Juicy J was throwing bandz as a solo artist, he was giving one of the most hyped Oscar speeches in the history of the award show alongside his Three 6 Mafia family. To this day, "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" is only the second hip-hop track recognized by the Academy; the first being Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

"Juice (Know the Ledge)" - Eric B. & Rakim

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

From JUICE

The best song on the Juice soundtrack didn't come courtesy of 2pac, but rather the legendary Eric B. & Rakim. Featuring some of hip-hop's most impressive story telling, the film's title track was re-released as a single from the duo's Don't Sweat the Technique. It was one of the last hits recorded by Eric B. & Rakim collaboratively. Rakim also plays live drums on the track.

"Errtime" - Nelly

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

Love it or hate it, Adam Sandler's remake of The Longest Yard was an enormous success, earning fives times what the original did at the box office. Funded by MTV Films, the movie was aided by a soundtrack featuring some of southern rap's biggest stars. Nelly's "Errtime" served as the release's only single. Produced by Jazze Pha and featuring King Jacob, the song reached the top 30 on the Billboard charts.

"Rivers of Blood" - Wu Tang Clan & Kool G Rap

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I went to see RZA's The Man With the Iron Fists back in 2012, I already knew the soundtrack front to back. From Kanye's "White Dress" to Pusha's "Tick Tock," the record was instantly the best film soundtrack of the year and "Rivers of Blood" was the best thing on it. Sampling Queen's "Flash Gordon Theme Song," the song was ultimately left out of the film but, fortunately, has found a home on my iPod for years to come.

"Forever" - Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

"Forever" may be the only soundtrack inclusion in the history of music that outsold the film that it was supposed to be marketing. Produced for the documentary "More Than A Game", "Forever" went 3X platinum, indicating sales exceeding 3 million singles sold. The film itself went on to gross less than a million in box office venue.

"Check On It" - Beyonce, Slim Thug & Bun B

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

In this remake of the Peter Sellers classic, Beyonce had the privilege of playing the voluptuous Ms. Xania. The film itself was "eh" and Yonce's performance didn't exactly elevate it beyond that, but even Inspector Clouseau knew that "Check On It" was a hit. Reaching the top of the Billboard chart, it remains the most successful track that both Bun B and Slim Thug have ever been a part of. H-Town represent. 

"I Believe I Can Fly" - R. Kelly

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

It was only fitting that the producers of Space Jam seek out real-life cartoon character R. Kelly to record the flagship single to their Looney Tunes classic. In his memoirs, Kellz claims the track felt like something he was intended to record his entire life, having dreamt the notes as a child. Referring to it as "written by God," Kelly recorded the song in three-hours after receiving the phone call. The Notorious B.I.G. was watching him in the studio. The song remains R. Kelly's most successful single to date despite having been blocked from number one on the charts by Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart."

"Act a Fool" - Ludacris

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

A gift and a curse, "Act a Fool" finds Ludacris both at the top of his career and at the beginning of a slippery slope to becoming a full-time actor. Released alongside Chicken & Beer, the single blew up the pop charts and helped make Universal's "Fast & The Furious" into one of the highest grossing franchises of all time.

"Lose Yourself" - Eminem

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

From 8 MILE

Granted, "Lose Yourself" is only one of the incredible tracks offered on the soundtrack to the Eminem's semi-autobiographical film "8 Mile". That being said, the impact of the song far exceeds just about any other song on the album as well as just about any hip-hop release in recent history. The track went on to earn five Grammy nominations, top charts around the globe, and become the first hip-hop song to win an Academy Award, solidifying Eminem as a historical figure in rap music. Make no mistake, this was and still is the soundtrack single to end all soundtrack singles.

BONUS: "Dig It" - D-Tent Boys

20 Dope Hip-Hop Songs Made For Film

From HOLES

There's dope, and then there's Shia-LaBeouf-spitting-six-bars-over-west-coast-bounce-dope. You're welcome.

About The Author
<strong>Favorite Artists:</strong> Kanye West, Tech N9ne, The-Dream, Drake, Eminem, Jay-Z, Ludacris, T.I., Killer Mike, John Legend, R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, U2, Oasis, The National, and Radiohead.