The coming-of-age flick Dope has been stirring up attention ever since it was involved in a bidding war at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and audiences will finally get a chance to see it for themselves next Friday, June 19th. As exciting as it is to see a fresh perspective (i.e. not white) on the typical nerd’s day out storyline, the soundtrack’s been drawing in tons of attention, too.
Curated by none other than Pharrell Williams, the soundtrack reflects the nostalgic eyes of Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), and Jib (Tony Revolori). Skateboard P came through and picked some ’80s and ’90s jams to complement the new tunes by Awreeoh, but there are still some well hidden truths and fun factoids that may have been lost in the fold all those years ago. Here are some things you may not know about these classics and their respective artists.
Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets
As one of the earliest hip-hop groups to incorporate jazz into their soundscapes, Digable Planets’ 1993 debut LP Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), hit #15 on the Billboard 200 and the single “Cool Like Dat” reached #1 on the Rap charts and #15 on the Hot 100. The group released a second album, the overtly political and stripped-back Blowout Comb, in 1994 before calling it quits shortly after. Ishmael Butler, aka Butterfly from the group is still kicking around as a member of the experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Call him Palaceer Lazaro.
As some may know, Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder gets his name from a Digable Planets record of that same name from BC.
The World Is Yours – Nas
Nas’ debut LP Illmatic effected hip-hop in ways we can still feel today, but “The World Is Yours” had its own inspirations it was nodding to. The song and accompanying music video were homages to the influential 1983 Brian De Palma gangster film Scarface.
The Pete Rock produced instrumental is built around an acute piano loop from Ahmad Jamal’s “I Love Music.” Q-Tip did a remix where Nas changes several lines, one of which became the hook to Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents.”
Rebel Without a Pause – Public Enemy
Public Enemy has always been known for the head-knocking ferocity of their beats, courtesy of The Bomb Squad, but this song was the first in their catalogue that was recorded with a different BPM (beats per minute) count than most rap tracks at the time: 109 compared to the average 98. Remember to thank Bomb Squad head Hank Shocklee for that one.
And what exactly is that wailing sound in the beat? Chuck told Keyboard magazine in 1990:
“In ‘Rebel Without a Pause,’ we programmed that weird screechy sound. It was sampled to have a clean sound, and it just didn’t feel right, so we cut the amount of time in that siren sample, redid it with, like, a two-bit sampling rate, which made it really gritty-sounding, almost unpresentable, and then we looped that at a point where it was kind of imperfect. That’s what made the record have more soul, have more funk.”
Scenario – A Tribe Called Quest
ATCQ’s legendary posse cut has gone down as one of the greatest of all time. The third single from 1991’s The Low End Theory featured Dinco D, Charlie Brown and Busta Rhymes of Leaders Of The New School, along with Tribe. The original is only surpassed by its remix, which featured a blistering verse by then unknown Kid Hood. In an interview with Combat Jack, Busta Rhymes says that there were even more people clamoring to get on the track.
“I think that song got recorded like three times,” says Busta. “One time we came in the room and I heard De La Soul verses on it, Chris Lighty (R.I.P.) was spittin on it…Chris was just f*ckin around. Everybody knew how special that record was, so everybody wanted in.”
The song is so great that the boys in Black Hippy had to hop on the beat and record a cut of their own. Listen to Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock all take a bite out of the beat below.
The Humpty Dance – Digital Underground
Every person of a certain age better be grooving to this song just from looking at the title. This song marked the second appearance, after the song “Doowutchyalike” by Humpty Hump, of the character that DU insisted wasn’t just their lead MC Shock G in a crazy costume.
*whispers* But it totally was. In fact, several different people alternately assumed the role of Humpty and Shock G to keep the illusion alive. Shock G explained in 2010 interview with the SanfranciscoWeekly.com:
There were four Humptys ever. Michael Webster, an artist who draws for a living in Oakland, looked enough like me to play Humpty. He was Humpty on the cover of B.A.M. [Bay Area Music] magazine, and also in the 8×10 glossy of Digital Underground that Tommy Boy used to circulate in the first two years. One of his upper two teeth was a little darker than the other one–that’s the only one you can tell, cause the nose covers up so much and then there’s the clothing. Also, in some photos I was Humpty and Kent was Shock G cause he didn’t have to do anything but stand there.
In the “Humpty Dance” video, when Humpty would walk by Shock G, that was Rod Houston, the video rep from Tommy Boy who happened to look enough like me. So that’s three different Shock Gs and four Humptys.
Hip-Hop Hooray – Naughty By Nature
One of the most iconic songs in hip-hop history, the video for Naughty By Nature’s track is a posse cut in and of itself. Directed by Spike Lee, the clip features appearances from Queen Latifah, Run-DMC, Monie Love, Eazy-E, Kriss Kross, and more. However, the scene stealer was model and filmmaker Abeni Garret, who is seen wringing out her panties in the sink after ogling Treach and company on her television.
“If my credentials aren’t good enough, I’ll use my body to open doors for me,” she says in an interview with Vibe magazine in October of 1993. “How many 23-year-old aspiring filmmakers with no degree can say they’ve worked with Spike Lee?”
And if you really, really need an extended fix of this song, someone made a 10-hour loop of it on Youtube using footage from The Wolf Of Wall Street.
Home Is Where The Hatred Is – Gil Scott-Heron
In the late 60s and early 70s, Gil Scott-Heron was rapping before anyone knew what it was. Gil’s rendition of a junkie’s life in his song “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” was so vivid, R&B singer and former addict Esther Phillips famously quipped “You know too much about a junkie’s life not to be one;” this was years before Scott-Heron’s own struggles with addiction. Phillips later became a close friend and later went on to cover the song.
Also, if you have some de ja vu it’s because Kanye West sampled it for the track “My Way Home” which features vocals by Common.