Men in Black (1997) Agent J (Will Smith) dancing
The term "Hip Hop" actually covers a wide variety of history of artistic forms, from clothes to dancing. I'm just focusing on music in this post. The hip hop style originated in New York during the 1970s, but has become a global phenomenon. Today hip hop, or rap, can be seen on everything from the Super Bowls to Pepsi commercials. It's no wonder that it's infiltrated genre like science fiction and superhero films.

Here now are the most hip hop moments of the genre. Since it's not possible to get the video from everything in the list, I've embedded the songs.

11. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2012) "Don’t Let Me Die" by Jay-Z and R. Kelly
In one scene, Roadblock (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is giving a motivational speech to the troops and quotes a hip hop song by Jay-Z. He says, "In the immortal words of Jay-Z, 'Whatever deity may guide my life, Dear Lord don’t let me die tonight.'" The song is from Jay-Z's 2004 album "Unfinished Business" with R&B singer R. Kelly. It was they're second collaboration. "Unfinished Business" debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

10. Wild Wild West (1999) "Wild Wild West" by Will Smith ft. Dru Hill, Kool Moe Dee
Wild Wild West is a pretty lame film, but it did have a saving grace in the soundtrack. Will Smith continued his early tradition of producing a single for his movies, like Men In Black, and it had modest success. "Wild Wild West" was a number one pop hit on the Billboard Hot 100 list and the music video blew up on MTV as well. The best part is the chorus, which was sampled from the Stevie Wonder song "I Wish" and the Kool Moe Dee song of the same name.

9. Futurama "Hell is Other Robots" "Intergalactic" by The Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are a hip hop band from New York that formed in 1981. The group was mainly composed of Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. They're cultural impact has been huge for mixing hardcore punk and rap and Billboard Music named them the "biggest selling rap" group since 1991. In the Futurama episode "Hell is Other Robots" they hilariously performed as floating heads in jars. My favorite part is the guys in black dancing with the heads to give them their trademark high energy stage presence. They also sang a rendition of "Sabotage."

8. Ghostbusters II (1989) "On Our Own" by Bobby Brown
"On Our Own" is a song by Bobby Brown as a single from the Ghostbusters II soundtrack. It was number one the U.S. Billboard R&B chart for a week and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart for three weeks. Interestingly enough, Prince's "Batdance" for Batman (1989) kept it from the number one spot. Gotta love the eighties. It peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart though. The video featured bizarre cameos from Iman, Christopher Reeve, Rick Moranis, Jane Curtin, The Ramones, Rick Moranis, and Donald Trump.

7. Batman Forever (1995) "The Riddler" by Method Man
Clifford Smith, known by his stage name Method Man, is an American hip hop recording artist from Staten Island, New York best known as a member of the East Coast hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. The song is loosely based on the Batman villain but manages to work crossword puzzles, the bat cave and Batmobile into the rhymes. The single had modest success, making it to four different Billboard charts, including #56 on the magazine's main chart, the Billboard Hot 100.What makes it great is that it was produced by fellow Wu Tang Clan member RZA.

6. Doctor Who "Father's Day" "Don't Mug Yourself" by The Streets
In the Doctor Who episode "Father's Day," Rose inadvertently changes history while in 1987.  When she and her father are riding in the car they get "rickrolled" by Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." Then, the song is interrupted by the anachronistic 2002 hip hop song "Don't Mug Yourself." Her father doesn't notice the change, but Rose immediately realizes something is wrong. The song is from the album "Original Pirate Material Released" and is performed by Mike Skinner and his friend Calvin Bailey. It reached number 21 in the UK Singles Chart. This is the first hip-hop song featured in Doctor Who.

5. Star Trek (2009) "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys
"Sabotage" from the Beastie Boys is a 1994 rap song from their fourth album "Ill Communication." The song is on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. It's playing on the radio as young James Kirk steals a car and leads the police on a high speed chase through the desert. Although it's never been confirmed, it's considered an inside joke on William Shatner's famous refusal to say the word"Sabotage" with an American accent.

4. Doctor Who "Smith and Jones" "Sunshine" by Arrested Development
"Sunshine" was a song by Arrested Development that played at the beginning of "Smith and Jones." It plays when Martha Jones (Freeyma Agyeman) is talking to her family. It's the first hip hop song used as incidental music on Doctor Who. The first hip hop song was "Don't Mug Yourself". The song is from Arrested Development's 2006 album "Since the Last Time." Arrested Development is an American band, but the album wasn't released in the United States until 2007. In fact, it was released internationally around the world EXCEPT in the U.S. Arrested Development was founded by Speech and Headliner as a positive, Afrocentric alternative to the popular style of angry gangsta rap popular in the 90s.

3. Space Jam (1996) "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)" by B-Real, Coolio, Method Man, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes
The popular commercials featuring Bugs Bunny meeting Michael Jordan spawned a live-action comedy with the characters. The movie got mixed reviews, but opened at number one and grossed over $230 million worldwide. Currently, it's the most successful basketball movie of all-time. When they prepared the soundtrack they decided to capitalize on the hip hop market by assembling a "dream team" of rappers: Busta Ryhmes, Coolio, Method Man from "Wu Tang Clan" and B-Real from "Cypress Hill". It worked and the album went double platinum in less than two months.

2. Hancock (2008) "Move" by Ludacris ft. Mystikal and I-20
In Hancock, the drunken superhero flies through the sky while Ludacris' song "Move" (also known as "Move B***h") plays. it's the perfect compliment to Hancock's in-your-face style and attitude as he knocks over signs and crashes into buildings. The third official single from rapper Ludacris' (real name Christopher Brian Bridges) album "Word of Mouf." The single is Ludacris' first big hit and reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Today, the song is hilariously used on various radio traffic reports.

1. Men in Black (1997) "Men in Black" by Will Smith ft. Coko
"Men in Black" is one of Will Smith's first big hits and helped him transition from recording artist to blockbuster film artist. Hip-Hip artist Willard Carroll Smith Jr., known by his stage name "The Fresh Prince," was a modest success as a rapper in the 1980's, but his real fame came when he starred in the TV series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The show ran for six years (1990 - 1996) and he immediately starred in the blockbuster hit Independence Day that year. But it was his second film Men in Black that cemented his role as a multi-billion dollar actor. M.I.B. also secured his success as a hip-hop artist. Men in Black: The Album was a huge success and was number one for two weeks on the Billboard music charts and went triple platinum. The biggest song on the album was the single "Men in Black", featuring singer Coko from SWV, and earned Smith a 1998 Grammy for Best Solo Performance.

What do you think is the greatest moment of hip hop in sci-fi? Are any of these songs your favorite?

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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The chase scene in Star Trek was funny.
Will Smith has had an amazing career, hasn't he? Music, television, movies... Not many can do it all.

Pat Dilloway said...

I think Cartman's rendition of Wild Wild West is better. The video for Sabotage is probably better than the song itself. Cochese is awesome!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Now I have the Ghostbuters song in my head!

MPax said...

That was a great scene in Star Trek. The Beasties can be fun. I like the Wild Wild West song too


The Intergalactic video is one of my favorites!

jeremy [retro] said...

the trek one got me to holler in the theater... sad i know, the only one i could think about was from the film "explorers"... maybe?

Maurice Mitchell said...

Who you gonna call L? ;)

Maurice Mitchell said...

I almost cheered myself Jeremy. I'll look up Explorers because I don't remember that one.

Maurice Mitchell said...

One of mu all time favorite videos Jeremy. A love letter to Kaiju.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Both catchy songs Mary! The hooks are incredible.

Maurice Mitchell said...

The Sabotage video is legendary Pat.

Tony Laplume said...

No nod for "Nod Ya Head (Black Suits Comin'), or did that just seem like one Smith too many? Anyway, I always hope he'll do more music.


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