Remember Space Jam? Yes, you do. And before I go any further, yes, this is an article on Steady Bloggin about Space Jam. Because it was an instant classic to the 9 year old me, and the 24 year old me wants to tell you about it.
Well it’s the 15 year anniversary of Space Jam, and Austin Kent over at The Good Point (who, interestingly, I went to University with – shouts to Sam Joynt who I roomed with in third year and also writes for GP) decided it’d be pretty cool to celebrate the occasion by recasting The Monstars in 2011. I agree.
So educated reader, who might already know where this is going, basketball and rap music have gone hand-in-hand for the better half of two decades now. And for someone like me, that’s awesome since basketball and rap have long been interests number 1 and 1A, in no particular order. Naturally, including hip hop in films about basketball made sense, whether culturally within the movie itself, or accompanied by way of the soundtrack. For instance, White Man Can’t Jump had Cypress Hill and Queen Latifah, Hoop Dreams had Ice Cube, Above the Rim with Tupac, He Got Game had an entire soundtrack crafted by Public Enemy, and even a masterpiece like The 6th Man had Doug E. Fresh on a Stevie Wonder remix. But the cream of the crop, my friends, was The Monstars’ anthem known better as Hit’Em High.
Stealing the idea from Austin (it’s hip hop, we steal shit right?) and applying it to what Wikipedia suggests is “generally regarded as the greatest rap collaboration of all-time” (seriously, it says that), I thought it’d be thumbs up to figure out who could represent The Mean Team in the studio in 2011.
The decisions on the replacements, although none are necessarily perfect, I tried to justify with the original MC in mind, while still putting together a collaboration that would sound cohesive upon a final mix. Moreover, everyone included had to fit into the Monstar mold, meaning they had to have the ability to sound and appear villainous. So no Drake.
The jump off comes with B-Real, the nasally voice that you would never mistake for belonging to anyone else. In 2011, Danny Brown takes the lead off position for his own unique sound. As soon as you hear Danny Brown’s voice, he’s got your attention, and that’s exactly how we lift off.
Truthfully, there’s no real reason for Coolio to be on this track. He was never a villainous type dude, and no one thought he was bad back in the Fantastic Voyage days. Really, he had a couple successful songs in the years leading up to the release of Space Jam, and was most likely included for that reason. Combining that with A) he was a pretty plain rapper, so there aren’t any replacement options that stand out, and B) I don’t want to do anyone injustice by comparing them to Coolio, I’ve decided to use the second spot as a freebie. Freddie Gibbs, come on down. Freddie’s real grimey on everything I’ve heard from him, so he’d sound nice on here.
There was only one rapper I envisioned to replace Method Man, and it’s probably the exact one that Method Man would select if he could. The obvious choice is Redman, and it’s not even close. He can bring the same charisma and presence to the track that Johnny Blaze brought on the original, and after so many years side-by-side with Meth, Redman makes the most sense on the third verse.
I always thought LL Cool J didn’t really fit on this track, although admittedly I’m not his biggest fan, it always felt like he was on there to appeal to someone. Not exactly sure who, but he was a bit past his prime on the song. It’s possible he was on there for extra commercial appeal. Considering that, I propose Nas take the role of LL. Nasir has the name and the following that would help the song do well commercially, while still fitting into the overall concept of the song. True, Nas isn’t as villainous as he once was in the Nasty Nas era, but neither was LL at this point in his career, and we all know Nas can still bring it when he wants to.
Finishing off the original track is Busta Rhymes, whose delivery brings energy and charisma unmatched by just about everyone else in the game. Who else is capable of filling in to close out the track? Any one rapper probably wouldn’t be able to do it on the same level as Busta. M.O.P. however, could. Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame yelling all over the track for the whole last verse? Dope. I would have them do the chorus too. And I don’t think it needs mentioning that they certainly slide into the bad guy role flawlessly.
Lastly, for the beat I’d go with Marco Polo. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed, he has a great ear for samples, drums that hit hard, and is more capable of coming up with that evil sound needed for the joint than anyone I can think of.
So there you have it, friends. Hit’Em High 2011 featuring Danny Brown, Freddie Gibbs, Redman, Nas, and MOP, produced by Marco Polo. Someone make this happen.
Think you can come up with a good list for Hit’Em High 2011? Let us know in the comment section.