The upcoming wide release on Friday of Spike Lee’s new film Red Hook Summer inspired us to look back at the relationship between the director and hip-hop. Spike’s work has always been in dialogue with rap, from his use of Public Enemy on the soundtracks to Do the Right Thing and He Got Game to his Malcolm X biopic’s huge influence on rap’s then-prominent black nationalist bent to his casting of real-life hip-hoppers Mos Def, Charli Baltimore, MC Serch, Canibus, and The Roots in our personal favorite of his films, Bamboozled. Plus, he commissioned and directed the video for “Da’ Butt“, for which we cannot thank him enough.
Rappers, in turn, have always showed Spike love. His movies and their iconic characters—Radio Raheem, Gator, Mars Blackmon, Nola Darling—have worked their way into scores of songs. But he has also become so beloved that his lesser-known movies, TV commercials, and even his production company have also been the subjects of rhymes. Below are 10 different Spike movies referenced in rap songs—and with none of the lame “do the right thing like Spike Lee” similes that make us want to die. (In alphabetical order.) —Shawn Setaro, Editor-in-Chief of Rap Genius