The American Gangster is a film about the life of Frank Lucas, a gangster who operated in Harlem during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is widely considered one of the best films of 2007. The film’s soundtrack consists of songs from the era in which the film is set and contemporary pieces. Here is a ranking of all the songs on the American Gangster soundtrack.
13. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road by Lewel Fulson (1969)
A blues song initially recorded in 1968, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, was used in the opening scene of American Gangster. It sets the tone for the film perfectly, with its gritty and raw sound.
12. Only The Strong Survive by Jerry Butler (1968)
This is a song about continuing to fight and never giving up, no matter how hard things get. It’s a perfect fit for the American Gangster soundtrack, as it encapsulates the struggle of rising to the top and staying there. The production on this track is gorgeous, with a driving horn section and Butler’s soulful vocals. It’s an unconventional choice for the soundtrack, but it’s a welcome addition.
11. Hold On I’m Comin’ by Sam Moore & Dave Prater Jr. (1966)
Hold On I’m Comin’ is a 1966 single by Sam & Dave, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. The song is a cover of a 1966 song by the same name. It is about a man coming to save his woman from a bad relationship. It clearly describes the feelings of a man who is about to keep his woman from a life of misery. It is a classic song that many artists have covered. The American Gangster soundtrack is the first time a hip-hop artist has covered it. The music is used in the film to signify the arrival of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) in Harlem. He is coming to save his family and friends from a life of poverty and crime. The song is also used in the trailer for the film.
10. Guess Things Happen That Way by Johnny Cash (1958)
Penned by the great country songwriter Jack Clement, this song is one of Cash’s more lighthearted numbers. It’s a fun little ditty about a man who’s just been jilted by his lover. It’s a pretty simple song, but Cash’s delivery is impeccable as always.
9. No Shoes by John Lee Hooker (1973)
This song is from a man who has just killed another man and is on the run. He’s in a panic, and his only thought is to get away. The song is full of tension and suspense, making it perfect for a movie like American Gangster.
8. I’ll Take You There by The Staple Singers (1972)
The Staple Singers’ 1972 hit “I’ll Take You There” is one of the perfect tracks from the soundtrack. Mavis Staples’ commanding vocals are sublime, and the song’s gospel-infused groove is downright infectious. The Staple Singers were one of the most critical and influential soul groups of the 20th century, and “I’ll Take You There” is a perfect example of why.
7. Stone, Cold by Anthony Hamilton (2007)
Stone, Cold is the eighth track on the American Gangster soundtrack. The song is performed by Anthony Hamilton and features a soulful, classic R&B sound. The lyrics tell the story of a man struggling to move on from a failed relationship. The song was well-received by critics, with many praising Hamilton’s vocal performance.
6. Do You Feel Me by Anthony Hamilton (2007)
“Do You Feel Me” is a song by American R&B singer Anthony Hamilton. It was written by Jerry Duplessis, Wyclef Jean, and Hamilton for his third studio album Comin’ from Where I’m From (2003), while production was helmed by the former. The song was released as the album’s fourth and final single in 2004.
5. Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack (1989)
Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” is one of the most famous and well-loved tracks from The American Gangster soundtrack. The song was initially released in 1972, but it didn’t gain widespread popularity until featured in the 1989 film Do the Right Thing. “Across 110th Street” is a soulful ballad that perfectly captures the film’s setting of Harlem in the 1970s. The lyrics tell the story of a man trying to make it in the tough inner-city streets. Womack’s powerful vocals convey the desperation and hope of the character, making “Across 110th Street” one of the most moving and memorable tracks on the soundtrack.
4. Winter Wonderland by Louis Armstrong (1971)
This cheery number by the legendary jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong was initially released in 1971 on his holiday album, Christmas Through the Years. It’s a fun and upbeat tune that perfectly captures the joy and spirit of the holiday season. However, it takes on a whole new meaning when used in the context of the American Gangster soundtrack. In the film, this song is used during a montage scene in which we see the rise of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) as a powerful and successful crime boss. Lucas is shown making deals, shaking hands with other gangsters, and generally enjoying the spoils of his illegal enterprise.
3. Only The Lonely (Know the Way I Feel) by Roy Orbison (1960)
The American Gangster soundtrack features a lot of classic tracks, but at the top of the list has to be Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely (Know the Way I Feel)”. The song perfectly encapsulates the film’s themes of loneliness, crime, and regrets. It’s a perfect fit for the movie, and one of the best tracks on the soundtrack.
2. How Great Thou Art by singer Shirley Caesar (2007)
How Great Thou Art is the third track on the American Gangster soundtrack. It is a cover of the traditional Christian hymn of the same name, performed by Gospel singer Shirley Caesar. The song is used in the film during a montage of scenes depicting Frank Lucas’ (Denzel Washington) rise to power. The lyrics are a perfect fit for the film, as they speak of God’s greatness and mercy. Caesar’s powerful vocal performance and the stirring Gospel choir make “How Great Thou Art” one of the best tracks on the soundtrack.
1. Can’t Truss It by Public Enemy (1991)
This is the song that plays during the end credits of American Gangster, and it’s a perfect choice. It’s a dark, menacing song about how you can’t trust anyone, which seems appropriate for a movie about a drug kingpin. It’s also a great song in its own right, with a thumping beat and some excellent rhymes from Chuck D.