20 Weird and Wonderful Hip-Hop Movie Theme Songs
As music evolved throughout the decades, so too did the movie theme song, which began to embrace hip hop as a way to appeal to younger audiences. In the history of hip hop movie theme songs, most are hilariously corny at best, and many of these films could be categorized as “Least Likely to Inspire a Single Rap Verse.” You can easily imagine some white, middle-aged studio executive who thinks a hip theme song is just what his movie needs to become a certified franchise; it’s the corporate equivalent of desperately trying to be the Cool Dad.
To celebrate the release of Suicide Squad — which has its own song courtesy of Skrillex and Rick Ross — we collected 20 of the weirdest, wackiest and most wonderful (but mostly wonderfully terrible) hip hop theme songs in movie history. Our criteria is simple: The song has to be from the film’s official soundtrack (sorry, “Nightmare on My Street”) and must be directly related to the title or the narrative of said film. From Deep Blue Sea to Wild Wild West and (almost) everything in between, this list celebrates some of the best and worst of one of cinema’s most absurd musical devices.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
You could not escape Turtle Power in 1991 — or Vanilla Ice, for that matter. For kids who grew up in the early ’90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel had one of the more memorable rap theme songs, courtesy of Vanilla Ice. The rapper even performed the song during an actual scene in the film, which also happened to be his first acting gig (but not his last…).
Most ridiculous lyric: “Have you ever seen a turtle get down?”
Ah yes, the rare eponymous movie theme song that also happens to be a hip hop track. Bonus: It’s performed by a group that also has the same name as the film. That’s right. It’s a track called “Monster Squad” by a fictional group called The Monster Squad for the movie The Monster Squad. Although Fred Dekker and Shane Black’s campy horror comedy wasn’t a major hit by any means, the film developed a cult following over time, and even the silly rap theme song from the end credits has found its fans.
Most ridiculous lyric: “From the mouth of babes comes dynamite.”
Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
“Are You Ready for Freddy?”
This track by The Fat Boys may not be the one most commonly associated with Nightmare on Elm Street (that honor goes to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s unofficial tribute, “Nightmare on My Street”), but it does have the cheesy distinction of a rap verse performed by Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. In the eternal battle between Freddy and Jason, the former has a leg up when it comes to movie theme songs — Jason certainly never got to do a guest verse on a “Camp Crystal Lake” rap.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Grab a hold of your friends, it’s Krueger time!”
“On Our Own”
A nerd-friendly sequel about a quartet of unlikely heroes busting ghosts doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for a rap theme song, and yet Ghostbusters II had not just one, but two of them. And it was 1989 — which is more than just the year in which Taylor Swift was born, by the way. While the sequel wasn’t as well-received as its predecessor, Bobby Brown’s track proved to be a major hit, topping the Billboard R&B chart for one week.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Had ’em throwin’ a party for a bunch of children, while all of the while the slime was under the building.”
Run DMC’s track for the sequel lays rap verses over a remix of Ray Parker Jr.’s theme song for the original Ghostbusters. This one was nowhere near as memorable, though the music video did feature Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts as themselves, attending a red carpet event for the sequel with Run–D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay as their dates — decked out in full ghost-busting gear. Unfortunately, that music video seems to have vanished into the internet ether.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Now there’s a group that likes to troop.”
Cool as Ice
“Cool as Ice (Everybody Get Loose)”
After appearing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Vanilla Ice apparently began to think of himself as something of a thespian. In 1991, the rapper starred in a musical rom-com called Cool as Ice, in which he plays a bad boy biker who rolls up into town and falls for a nice honor student whose dad runs afoul of corrupt cops. It’s…a lot. But there’s more: The film’s theme song, (obviously) performed by Vanilla Ice with guest vocals from supermodel Naomi Campbell, of all people. Not only does he perform the song in the film, but he does so in the very first scene.
Most ridiculous lyric: “I’m the teacher, man, you’re the student. Close your ears if you feel you’re prudent.”
The Addams Family
How do you sell a movie reboot about a creepy and kooky family of (literally) white people who romanticize death and have a disembodied hand for a pet? Despite being the exact inverse of what The Addams Family is, I’m not sure that a rap theme song is the best way to bring the classic TV family into the modern age, but MC Hammer sure did his damnedest. The early CG effects in this video are priceless (just kidding; they’re obviously cheap).
Most ridiculous lyric: “I remember the day I needed to borrow a little pepper.”
Addams Family Values
“Addams Family (Whoomp!)”
Tag Team’s hit song “Whoomp! (There It Is)” was either the best or worst thing to happen to music in 1993. In a desperate effort to prolong their popularity, the group remixed the track with the classic Addams Family theme song; like MC Hammer’s music video for the first film, this one also features Christina Ricci (who opens the video by unenthusiastically demanding, “Kick it”) and Jimmy Workman appearing as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams.
Most ridiculous lyric: All of it. It’s basically just “Whoomp! (There It Is)” all over again.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
“Ace Is in the House”
Tone “Wild Thing” Loc not only created an original song for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but he also had a supporting role in the film. The video for “Ace Is in the House” features his co-star Jim Carrey, reprising the eponymous role of the obnoxious pet P.I. Looking over this list, a pattern begins to emerge: All of these songs are catchy, with the sort of hook that can get stuck in your head for days on end — which is exactly what the studios want. “Ace Is in the House,” you declare to everyone in your line of sight as you walk up to the theater for your third viewing of Ace Ventura.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Remember, Ace got the face of a helpful detective man.”
There’s probably only one other item on this list that tops Method Man’s amazingly baffling track for Batman Forever. Yes, as in that Batman movie starring Val Kilmer and Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones — all of whom would probably like to forget that this movie ever happened, just as you forgot about Method Man’s Riddler rap.
Most ridiculous lyric: “It’s like a maze within itself.” Deep.
What, you really thought we’d make this list without including the song that was played at every sporting event and junior high school dance in 1996? Yeah, okay. The title track from the live-action Looney Tunes basketball comedy (there’s just so much going on there) comes courtesy of Quad City DJs, the group behind similar hip hop dance hits like “C’mon n’ Ride It (The Train)” and — my personal favorite, no lie — “My Boo.”
Most ridiculous lyric: “Come on and slam and welcome to the jam.”
Coolio’s theme song for Dangerous Minds transcended the film itself to become the number one best-selling single of 1995. When you think of that movie, chances are the first image that comes to mind is not of Michelle Pfeiffer trying to teach poetry to a diverse group of inner-city kids, but of Pfeiffer sitting in that chair — backwards, of course — while Coolio schools her on the finer points of his upbringing.
Most ridiculous lyric: None. This song is perfect. Get out of here.
“Straight to My Feet”
The only thing sillier than the 1994 Street Fighter movie is the theme song, performed by MC Hammer (he really got around) and — wait for it — Deion Sanders. Yes, as in the Deion Sanders of Dallas Cowboys football fame. To be fair, despite the inherently wacky concept, “Straight to My Feet” isn’t really a bad song, thanks in large part to its use of a familiar Funkadelic sample.
Most ridiculous lyric: “I’m livin’ this funk like bald flat tires.”
A heartwarming dramedy starring Keanu Reeves as a gambler who must coach a baseball team made up of troubled fifth graders doesn’t seem like it would inspire a rap verse (let alone several), and yet it elicited a track from not one, not two, but four performers. Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil Wayne, Lil’ Zane and Sammie got together to make the eponymous theme song for the 2001 film, which earned Reeves a Razzie Award nomination (he lost to Tom Green for Freddy Got Fingered).
Most ridiculous lyric: “Ain’t no game like a game of hardball.” (Hey, that’s the name of the movie!)
The Shaggy Dog
There isn’t even an official music video for Akon’s theme song to The Shaggy Dog. It’s as if Disney thought they should commission an original track for the already-forgotten 2006 remake — you know, just in case it needed one. But apparently someone at the studio realized that this movie wasn’t worth the trouble, despite a cast that included eternal paternal favorite Tim Allen and Robert Downey Jr.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Ever since I got bitten by my dog, things changed. Everything is different and my life is not the same. I must’ve been infected when he bit me on my hand.
And now I understand why I’m feeling like a big dog.”
Men in Black
“Men in Black”
There was a brief, blissful period of time when Will Smith made original songs for his own movies. Those days are sadly gone, as the actor and artist formerly known as The Fresh Prince couldn’t even dust off his mic for a Suicide Squad theme song. What a world.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Cameras zoom on the impending doom.”
Wild Wild West
“Wild Wild West”
Of course Will Smith is on here twice. Of course.
Most ridiculous lyric: “Wicky wicky wild.”
It may be the first recent entry on this list, but it’s not the last (see below). The Merc With a Mouth’s solo debut had a great soundtrack (DMX! Salt-N-Pepa! Wham!), so the last thing anyone probably expected was an original rap song. But he’s a superhero who loves ’80s and ’90s hits, so it kind of makes sense that he’d have his very own theme song. And in keeping with that idea, this one’s just sort of OK.
Most ridiculous lyric: It’s nearly impossible to choose, but how about this charmer: “She got big ol’ boobs and butt-ass breath.”
Jodie Foster’s Wall Street hostage thriller starring George Clooney officially wins the award for the least likely movie to ever have its own rap theme song. Ever. And yet, when this Dan the Automator track kicks in over the end credits, there’s something glorious about the moment when you realize that the lyrics are about the movie — this movie, of all movies.
Most ridiculous lyric: Isn’t the fact that this song exists ridiculous enough?
Deep Blue Sea
It’s only fair to save the best for last, and there really is no other movie with an original hip hop theme song as wonderfully absurd and delightfully dumb (and weirdly catchy, sure) as LL Cool J’s track for Deep Blue Sea. It’s the musical equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson’s big monologue moment — you know the one.
Most ridiculous lyric: “My hat is like a shark’s fin.”