The Music of 8 Mile (The 90’s Version)

So before getting into things I feel it is only appropriate to show our remorse at the tragic death of Brittany Murphy and our thoughts at OTU go out to all her family during this difficult time. Her work was admired by masses across the globe, and her performance in 8 Mile was, for me, one of her best moments on the big screen.

Ever since joining the OTU team I’ve been looking forward to doing this review. Why? Not only is 8 Mile an awesome insight into the hip-hop world back in the mid nineties, but also because it showcases an array of hip-hop talent throughout the picture. You cannot get these on the OST released with the film, these are the tracks from the 90′s when the film was set. 7 years on from the film’s UK release date, I’ve got eleven absolute gems (the other two are essential to cover, but don’t achieve the minimum standard 4 BDK rating) to share with you over the next few minutes of your life and I guarantee they are going to make you feel more complete because of it…

I appreciate this is a quite lengthy review but I can assure you it is more than worth the time spent reading. The tracks are reviewed in the order they appear in the film and after I have given my thoughts then each track will go under the scrutiny of BDK (OTU accepts no responsibility for a rating which Big Daddy Kane does not agree with).

Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Pt II (The Infamous)(1995)

This track used to be my favourite hip-hop joint of all time (I say used to be not because it has weakened but because I have since been opened up to other classics which also share its rightful throne). I could leave it at that and you will download it. However, over the past few months we have built up a relationship and I feel I owe it to you to explain why.

Shook Ones Pt II by Mobb Deep (Havoc and Prodigy) was their lead single to their second album The Infamous (Their debut was actually two years previous: Juvenile Hell). It is considered their signature song from their career and when it kicks off you will realize what I mean. The hi-hats start off, the baseline drops…

“I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous

you heard of us, official Queensbridge murderers”

Both P and H spit some of the dopest (and hence most sampled) lyrics the genre has seen. Covering the hardships of growing up in the infamous Queensbridge Projects and the lengths some will go to in order to get paid, ‘harrowing’ seems to be the only word which can give Shook Ones the justice it deserves. This track is so hard that it makes you want to stab your own grandmother. For me, quite frankly, it changed the way I saw hip-hop. And this must be a good thing. Even if I am killing my parent’s mother.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Intro scene. Starts the film off to a cracker.

Final Battle. Finishes the film off in dramatic style.

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Mobb Deep – Survival of the Fittest (The Infamous)(1995)

Whenever I hear people arguing which is the Mobb’s best song, it’s either between Shook Ones or this little baby.

The beat just ticks on over and is propped up by the eerie piano chords which cut right through you. Even your goosebumps have no place to hide. The slight crackling in the background makes it seem like H and P recorded this in a basement. Using only candlelight. At 4am in the morning. Now that’s gangster. I can’t get enough of this shit so cop it now. Right now. Before P turns up at your door.

Appears in 8 Mile When?

Papa Doc Opening Freestyle

Toilets scene with Future before the final battles

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

OC – Times Up (Word…Life) (1994)

OK. *takes breath for big, controversial statement*: O.C. has the best f*cking hip-hop voice ever. It’s just like he was born to lace the mic. Exaggeration? No. Underrated? Massively.

As a member of the legendary D.I.T.C, O.C. is often overshadowed by crew members of Lord Finesse, Big L and Fat Joe. However, his debut LP Word…Life holds its roots firmly in the forefront of underground hip-hop history, perhaps only rivaled by his counterparts catalogues in the way of L’s Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous.

This track showcases some more classic grittiness. It might not be the best on the album (Constables, No Main Topic, Ma Dukes stand in its way) but with Buckwild on the boards and O.C. consistently at his best, nothing more needs be said but download here.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Em’s first battle

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Notorious B.I.G. -  Juicy (Ready to Die) (1994)

“Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis,

When I was dead broke man I couldn’t picture this!”

I don’t have to sing B.I.G.’s praises to anyone so if you’ve lost your iTunes library recently then take a moment to refresh your memory here. If you haven’t lost your library and you don’t have this track then you must have taken a wrong turning because the Lady Gaga forum isn’t here.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

In early car scene, BB Shooting

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Naughty by Nature – Feel Me Flow (Poverty’s Paradise) (1995)

This is a brilliant example of how to mix a commercial joint intact with catchy chorus with impeccable rhyme scheme. You just can’t help but nod your head to the infectious beat whist Treach lays down some rapid fire lyrics. A definite summer/driving track.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Club after car park scene

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Junior Mafia (feat Notorious B.I.G. & Lil’ Kim) – Get Money (Conspiracy) (1995)

I’ve never been a massive fan of this joint. I find the chorus irritating and Lil’ Kim doesn’t do much for me, especially when she is rapping about having it off with blokes (No sexism here at all folks. Lauryn Hill, Bahamadia and Doomtree’s Dessa are all top female MCs). Again, it’s another easy-going club tune but I feel it only gets its props because of B.I.G. For the real heads you can get it here, but everyone else I would skip it and grab the Naughty by Nature joint above instead.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

In the car going to Wake’s after club

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Method Man (feat Mary J Blige) – All I Need (Razor Sharp Remix) (1994)

As if Meth didn’t have it perfectly when he recorded the original. I still can’t make my mind up which is better. Download both and choose for yourselves. The original is grittier and has that signature RZA sound to it, but Mary makes this much more suitable to stick on when your girlfriend is around. She might ask who is rapping in between the chorus, but just let it go and smile if you want to get laid (OK, guilty for small element of sexism here).

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Wake’s After party back at his Mom’s

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Shimmy Shimmy Ya (Return Of The 36 Chambers) (1995)

ODB doesn’t quite rap, yet he’s not exactly singing either. It doesn’t bother me though because I know he’s not bothered; he literally doesn’t give a fuck. Which is such a refreshing stance when we are constantly bombarded with the bling brigade arguing over who has the largest rims.

Anyway, RZA drops the beat in and the contagious pianos make this recognizable in an instant (it’s really easy to play on the ivory if you ever have the time). Every time I hear this it just makes me smile. The second verse is genius. Get it.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Playing in car before Cheddar shoots himself

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

The Pharcyde – Runnin’ (Labcabincalifornia) (1995)

I know I’m cheating here and The Pharcyde aren’t East Coast but I always think their sound relates much more to the New York scene than a group with a West Coast origin. With intelligent lyrics and conscious beats I couldn’t leave them out from my review. Runnin’, alongside Drop and Passing Me By, is my favourite Pharcyde tune. Breath of fresh air.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

In car taking Alex (Brittany Murphy) to her photo shoot.

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Notorious B.I.G. – Who Shot Ya?

Although B.I.G. was adamant Who Shot Ya? was recorded before Tupac’s first shooting and was in no way directed at Makaveli, even if this is true it seems rather a provocative track to drop with your now fuming rival laid up in hospital. Regardless of what you believe, it’s a dope track. Melodic yet heavy and B.I.G. comes in with some of his hardest rhymes on wax which to me, further emphasises Who Shot Ya?’s intent.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Rabbit (Em) entering the shelter for final battles

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M (Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers) (1993)

Classic joint on 36 Chambers which, like whiskey and Dr. Dre’s 2001, ages well with time. Textbook Wu. You know what it is. Download here.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Rabbit (Em) freestyling to Cheddar Bob before final

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Showbiz & A.G. – Next Level [Nite Time Remix] (Goodfellas) (1995)

The one-time members of D.I.T.C, Showbiz and A.G., branch off to bring us Goodfellas. A tough, street album often overlooked by many heads. Next level is a funky joint off the Goodfellas LP. You know what though? I’m not actually that insane about this joint and I actually much prefer several others off the LP (You Know Now, Got The Flava and the original version of Next Level brings more to the table than this remix). Heads, be sure you’ve got the album, but (and you won’t hear this often from me) I will allow you to let this one go as you won’t miss out too much.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Lickety Split Final

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

Onyx – Last Dayz (All We Got Iz Us) (1995)

If you haven’t heard Onyx before, this is probably a good place to start because it will ease you in to their hardcore, rough style. Not for the faint hearted, their first album Bacdafucup (1993) was an instant street classic and they followed up with the strong second LP All We Got Iz Us (1995). Last Dayz is easier going than the rest of their earlier work and as you get through their back catalogue by the time they reached their third effort, Shut ‘Em Down in 1999, they had mellowed slightly to many fans disappointment. I must admit, I had myself been sleeping on Onyx up until recently, but now (as Tempest so eloquently put it) they are raping my iTunes library. Make sure you play this on full volume.

Appears in 8 Mile When…?

Rabbit’s battle with Lotto

Murray’s BDK Rating:ger

So this completes my music of 8 Mile review. I know it’s taken quite the time to get through but I’m hoping if you have got to this point you have read and enjoyed most of the stuff I’ve covered. Make sure you at least download some of these classics and the next time you’re watching the film you can impress with some insightful knowledge.

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