This Week's Top 10: Novelty Rap Songs From Movies
On the way to Disneyland last weekend, I was listening to the Back in the Day Replay on '90s on 9. I love those old countdown shows because they often resurrect songs that certainly had their moments at the time but have otherwise been forgotten by history. Such was the case on Sunday when Partners in Kryme's "Turtle Power" popped up somewhere in the 20s. That was the theme song to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which dominated the box office in the spring of 1990 (it was number one for four straight weeks and was the fifth biggest movie of that year). "Turtle Power" is a very silly song that very intricately describes the characters and action of the movie, a phenomenon that used to be pretty commonplace but is now mostly dead.
But some of those songs, despite their novelty status, are great! And so I decided to dig deep in the archives and unearth the top 10 novelty rap songs attached to movies.
10) Teamheadkick, "Deadpool Rap" (from Deadpool)
The newest song on this list opens the top 10. It's not a great song, but I have to appreciate its commitment to a style. In fact, considering the talent involved and the Deadpool franchise's penchant for meta-commentary, it would not be shocking to find out that this song was a direct nod to "Turtle Power."
9) Sammie feat. Lil Bow Wow, Lil Zane & Lil Wayne, "Hardball" (from Hardball)
Did you forget that the inspirational kids sports movie starring Keanu Reeves had a Jermaine Dupri-produced theme song featuring mostly children? Did you forget that this was a movie? Me too! While we don't get the joy of hearing a pre-best-in-the-world Lil Wayne rhyming specifically about Keanu, we do get a lot of tortured baseball metaphors and that horn-happy production that everybody thought was cool in 2001.
8) Method Man, "The Riddler" (from Batman Forever)
The breakout star of the Wu-Tang Clan was riding the wave of his electric solo debut Tical when he was asked to craft a series of verses about one of Batman's goofier nemeses. Because it's Meth (and because the slightly sinister production is handled by the RZA), it ends up being mildly transcendent and absolutely belongs on his greatest hits compilation (if only because it's one of his highest-charting singles). It's one of the many low-key amazing entries on one of my favorite film soundtracks that also includes the best song in the U2 catalogue and an alarmingly dope collaboration between Brandy and Lenny Kravitz.
7) The Fat Boys, "Are You Ready for Freddy?" (from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)
First thing's first: The best soundtrack tune associated with the Nightmare franchise is undoubtedly Dokken's "Dream Warriors," which accompanied part three and is one of the five best songs of the entire '80s hair metal movement. But this wacky rap tune is no slouch, particularly because it features Robert Englund rapping as Freddy Krueger. Fun fact: When I was a child, I thought the guy with the claws on his fingers was named "Freddy Cougar."
6) Will Smith feat. Dru Hill & Kool Moe Dee, "Wild Wild West" (from Wild Wild West)
Undoubtedly the best thing about the forgettable sci-fi action western debacle (and TV adaptation!) Wild Wild West, this is also the lesser of two movie tie-in songs (the other is coming). Still, it's got everything a novelty rap track needs: A dope sample, some over-singing by Sisqo, a killer hook, and some needlessly specific insights into the characters that were assumed to be beloved but are now just confusing.
5) Tone Loc, "Ace Is In the House" (from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)
Has anybody had a weirder career than Tone Loc? He's a gravelly-voiced MC who scored a handful of novelty tunes using old proto-metal samples, then went on an inexplicable run of being like fifth-billed in movies as though he doesn't sound like a total weirdo. His turn as a cop in Ace Ventura is probably his most notable, if only because he's on the receiving end of Jim Carrey's ass-based monologue. In the song that runs over the credits, Loc declares Ace "the number one pet dick." Perfect.
4) MC Hammer, "Addams Groove" (from The Addams Family)
The Addams Family remains a fantastic movie, largely based on the exceptional performances by everybody involved (and particularly the lead triumvirate of Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston & Christopher Lloyd). The fact that this goth TV revival also had a rap song by a then-massive MC Hammer is mildly bonkers, though not quite as bonkers as going back to that well a second time with the sequel (Tag Team's "Addams Family Whoomp" is a crime against nature). This is probably Hammer's fourth best song, tbh.
3) Partners in Kryme, "Turtle Power" (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Everybody remembers Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap," but that's from the second movie and also Vanilla Ice sucks. This track is so amazing because it's so specific: Throughout the track, you get a complete description of our main heroes in a half shell, plus a look at the Shredder/Splinter dynamic and some narration of a battle that may or may not actually appear in the movie. The robot voice that spells out the world "turtle" predicted dubstep a quarter century ago.
2) Will Smith, "Men in Black" (from Men in Black)
Few things in life give me greater joy than listening to Will Smith explain how the MiBs protect us from the worst scum in the universe. Like, he manages to find a rhyme for "neuralyzer," all while coasting over a well-adapted sample of Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots." Jaden notwithstanding, Will Smith is a national treasure.
1) LL Cool J, "Deepest Bluest" (from Deep Blue Sea)
One of hip-hop's cornerstone talents is also responsible for the greatest ever movie tie-in song. Over a super-aggressive beat, LL raps from the perspective of the mutant shark in the movie, reminding you that "When the Titanic sink, I'm the one you gon' meet" and "I ate your ancestors—the ocean is haunted." I once asked LL if he was rapping "My head is like a shark fin" or "My hat is like a shark fin," and he told me that if his head was like a shark fin, wouldn't his hat have to be as well? And it took me forever to realize that that is not an answer to that question. LL Cool J is amazing, and "Deepest Bluest" is exhibit A.