Back in the 1990s, superhero movies didn’t get much darker than Blade, a horror film starring Wesley Snipes in one of the most iconic roles of his career. The soundtrack is similarly menacing, undercut with an ominous mood that unites the predominant sounds of New York-based hip hop with the scattering of club bangers like New Order’s new wave classic, Confusion. Released in August 1998, the soundtrack became almost as successful as the film, reaching number 36 on the Billboard 200 and number 28 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Even if superhero films and vampires leave you cold, the soundtrack is good enough to be enjoyed in isolation, especially if you have a secret predilection for ’90s hip hop. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the Blade soundtrack.
14. Gangsta Bounce – Wolfpak
Daddy Long Legs had already enjoyed major success as the co-founder of Bloodhound Gang by the time he formed Wolfpak in 1997, but despite being one of the most experienced artists on the Blade soundtrack, his contribution, Gangsa Bounce, is one of the weakest moments, with lyrics that are more cringe-worthy than catchy. It was released as the B-side to 1/2 & 1/2 by Gang Starr and M.O.P., but failed to make any kind of an impression on the charts.
13. Fightin’ a War – Down 2 Earth and Rome
Rome was flying high in 1998 thanks to the phenomenal, platinum-selling success of his eponymous debut album from the previous year. On Fightin’ a War, he more than holds his own against DJ/rapper Azure, Clyde Shankle, and Dayvid Michael of Oakland trio, Down 2 Earth.
12. Reservations – P.A.
Southern hip hop trio P.A got 1998 off to a flying start with their southern anthem, Like We Do. Reservations built on their success, earning the group their first gold disc when it worked its way onto the Blade soundtrack.
11. Things Ain’t the Same – Kasino
As raptology.com notes, Texas rapper Kasino was making quite the name for himself back in the late ’90s with collaborations with artists like DMX and The Lox and appearances on the soundtracks to movies like Rush Hour and the Corruptor. A 10-year jail sentence de-railed his plans in a major way, but not before he’d dropped the excellent Things Ain’t the Same for the Blade soundtrack.
10. Deadly Zone – Bounty Killer, Mobb Deep and Big Noyd
As All Music says, dancehall master Bounty Killer adds a different flavor to the rest of the rap on the Blade soundtrack. He still raps, but the reggae-tinged delivery helps its stand out from the crowd.
9. Dig This Vibe – DJ Krush
DJ Krush brings some trip-hop ambiance to the Blade soundtrack next with the phenomenal Dig This Vibe.
8. Wrek Tha Discotek – Roger Sanchez and Soulson
Dominican-American DJ Roger Sanchez adds a new flavor to the otherwise rap-heavy Blade soundtrack with this brutal club banger.
7. Playing with Lightning – Expansion Union
The Blade soundtrack might be dominated by rap, but there’s also room for dance-floor ready tracks like Expansion Union’s Playing with Lightening.
6. Dealing with the Roster – Junkie XL
Junkie XL has worked on multiple film scores over his career, including Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so it’s not surprising his contribution to the Blade soundtrack is one of its standout moments.
5. 1/2 & 1/2 – Gang Starr and M.O.P.
Gang Starr and M.O.P.’s 1/2 & 1/2 didn’t actually make it onto the film, but its dark beats and edgy rhythms still managed to win it a place on the soundtrack. The choice of samples is inspired – listen out for Mobb Deep’s Survival of the Fittest, M.O.P.’s New Jack City, Brother Arthur’s What You Gonna Do, and Jimmy Webb’s Gymnast’s Ballet (Fingerpainting). It was released as a single from the soundtrack in August 1998 but failed to chart.
4. Strictly Business (Mantronik MBA Radio Edit) – Mantronik and EPMD
EPMD’s Strictly Business might not have made huge waves back in 1988, but it’s since been recognized as a hip-hop classic. For the Blade soundtrack, Mantronk gives it a club-worthy remix.
3. The Edge of the Blade – Mystikal
Over the last 20 years, Mystikal’s made the news more for his frequent arrests and incarcerations than his music, but back in the mid-’90s, it was his high-speed delivery on tracks like The Edge of the Blade that was winning all the attention.
2. Blade – KRS-One and Channel Live
The Blade soundtrack features several new artists (or at least, artists who were new to the scene in 1998), but it also features performances from New York masters like KRS-One, who’d already achieved major success as a member of the ’80s hip hop group Boogie Down Productions and as the solo artist behind such massive international hits as Sound of Da Police. On Blade, he shows off his skills next to hip hop duo Channel Live.
1. Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix) – New Order
New Order’s Confusion (which was produced by legendary DJ Arthur Baker and is the only New Order song to feature bass guitar from both Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner) was already a classic long before Pump Panel turned it into an acid techno club tune, but the remix adds a new dimension that’s well worth checking out.