For the past couple of years hip hop has made some amazing strides when it comes to the world of film and television. From Academy Award nominated films like Straight Outta Compton to comic book shows like Luke Cage hip hop's presence in the media is apparent now more than ever. The trend doesn't seem to stopping anytime soon with the Tupac autobiography All Eyez On Me and Netflix's latest hit The Get Down making waves.
While the culture is used more for biographies hip hop can provide so much more than that. There have been albums covering a variety of genres from street life to horror and even science fiction. Stories that use beats and rhymes to tell a story worthy of Netflix. With all of that in mind here are 7 Hip Hop Albums That Are Perfect For A Netflix Series.
1. Ghostface Killah: Twelve Reasons To Die
Developed by Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and composer Adrian Younge Twelve Reasons to Die is an interesting mixing of thematic genres. Based in 1960s Italy it follows Tony Starks (not that one), enforcer for the DeLuca family. Things quickly unravel when he falls in love with the Don's daughter. Part Italian horror and part mafia tale it's a supernatural story that is pure Wu-Tang Clan.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'The Rise of Ghostface Killah'
Narrated by Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA the track tells us how Tony Starks is resurrected from the dead. It tells the audience how the enforcer was killed with his remains turned into 12 vinyl LPs. When played he returns from the dead and starts killing off the DeLuca crime family one-by-one. As silly as that sounds it absolutely works. A montage of mayhem it would be the kind of action that made shows like Daredevil such a hit.
2. Pharoahe Monch: W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
Starting in 1992 as a part of Organized Konfusion rapper Pharoahe Monch is one of the top rappers in underground hip hop. W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) is a post-apocalyptic metaphor for Monch's experience in the music industry. Thanks to the lyrical dexterity of Monch and from the likes of Immortal Technique, Styles P and even Idris Elba it easy to imagine the album being an action-packed sci-fi series.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'Assassins'
With most of the rebellion suppressed by the World Government for free thinking it is up to three assassins to attack the World Government headquarters to collect important files. With each of them possessing particular skills rappers/assassins Jean Grae, Pharoahe Monch and Royce Da 5'9 team up for an all-out assault. Part sci-fi epic and part action movie this posse cut feels like the kind of action scene that puts most films to shame.
3. Lupe Fiasco's Michael Young History Saga
Spread over a few albums the lyricist tells the story of The Streets, The Game and The Cool. An examination of the gang life it takes an interesting turn by turning these metaphors for the streets into real characters. With Netflix willing to pay big money for a series I could see this being made into a stylish, mind-bending series.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'The Die'
As Michael rises in the ranks other gangsters grow jealous of his wealth and The Streets by his side. He pays no mind to this as he is tailed by one of The Game's assassins. Lupe's lyrical prowess bring the story to life and make it feel like a scene straight out of a crime movie.
4. Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
In just a few short years Kendrick Lamar has become one of the top names in hip hop with his first big exposure being his major label debut Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. The 2012 album follows a teenage Kendrick as he tries to survive the drug and gang infested streets of Compton. Lamar's expert lyricism takes what could be a typical hood story and turns it into an introspective journey through the notorious city.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'The Art of Peer Pressure.'
The song follows Kendrick as he and the homies cruise around Compton. Things quickly go awry when things go from joyriding to robbing a home. The track is the perfect showcase of Kendrick's lyrical prowess going into detail about Kendrick's insecurities about the whole situation. As a potential scene it is the perfect way to show how the Good Kid deals living in the M.A.A.D. City.
5. Nas: Illmatic
On the other side of America is Nas's classic album Illmatic. Considered one of the best rap albums of all time it is a high detailed view of Nas's life in New York in the early 90's. It takes an exhaustive look at the effects of gangs, drugs and urban decay and how it effects the people. While there's no continuing narrative with each track a story in itself it's a surprise this hasn't been done already.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'One Love'
With the rhymes formatted as letters each letting incarcerated friends how things are on the outside before switching to the perspective of a 12 year old already ingrained with life on the streets. One of Nas's first hits it does a great job at conveying the politics and how quickly things change in the streets while still showing the camaraderie it births. With Nas's impeccable story telling skills one could easily see an episode of a show based on this track alone.
6. Logic: The Incredible True Story
If I had to pick out a current rapper with a clear, cinematic vision it would be Logic. Having mentioned in the past his admiration for Quentin Tarantino the rapper let his ambitions loose with his 2015 album The Incredible True Story. Through non-linear storytelling it is about last remnants of humanity searching space for a planet called Paradise after Earth is destroyed. Part-Tarantino and Part-Interstellar it is the kind of story that demands a visual adaption.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'White People (Scene)'
This may be a cheat since it is a literal scene but it is too good to ignore. As Aquarius III delves deeper into space the crew gets a perilous message from Aquarius I warning them to go back. While cliché it is so well acted on the album that it makes for a believable tension that looms over the entire album. I can easily see this working on the small screen.
7. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
From music to fashion Kanye West is a major player wherever he goes. Despite his lofty ambitions they haven't really expanded to TV. A shame because he has the perfect vehicle for it in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Released in 2010 it is Kanye's masterpiece tackling themes like celebrity and excess in a way only Kanye West can. In fact we've already seen what it could be like with Kanye's short film Runaway. If this is any indication a series based around My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Perfect Track For The Show- 'Monster'
This drum heavy song is does a beautiful job showing off the excess of fame. From the monster you become (Kanye) to criminals (Rick Ross), the vampiric drug dealers (Jay-Z) and femme fatales (Nicki Minaj) it turns the negative people you meet into literal monsters. Yet with these career defining verses they're just too tempting to ignore. If the music video is any indication Monster would be the horrifying trip to Hell that all stories about fame need.
The Break Down
Of course these are just a few examples. In its 40+ year history hip hip has provided some of the most engrossing stories to ever . I just hope that Netflix continues to promote and respect the hip hop culture.