‘Luke Cage’ Soundtrack: Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ Spotify Playlist Sets The Tone

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Luke Cage's signature superhero look is a sweatshirt with bullet holes. Netflix

The Netflix Luke Cage countdown is underway. Celebrate the hype by listening to the Luke Cage soundtrack. Adrian Younge, the composer who worked with Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest on the Luke Cage score, tweeted out his Luke Cage Spotify playlist to director Cheo Hodari Coker and Muhammad. The post was later retweeted by Marvel’s official Music account.

While this isn’t the complete official soundtrack and score, this playlist gives us some insight into the tone of the show. Luke Cage is more than the journey of a black superhero. It treats hip-hop as a progression as well. Younge’s playlist is all-encompassing. Jazz, funk, motown, soul and rap -- Younge and Muhammad don’t miss a beat. Drawing inspiration from Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Wu-Tang, James Brown and Marvin Gaye the composing duo uses hip-hop’s roots to tell the story of Luke Cage -- a wrongfully convicted Harlem-born black man who’s gifted with bulletproof abilities.

“What he wanted to see as this black superhero. And what he really wanted was the kind of superhero that was poised, had class and that was the kind of Alpha male that you don’t necessarily see Blacks playing. He also wanted this character to be in tune with the hip-hop culture,” Younge explained of the soundtrack in an interview with Watchloud . “That isn’t synonymous with providing a score that is all hip-hop music, it’s providing a score that essentially showcases the source material that helped create the hip-hop culture. As we all know hip-hop came from the breaks and Ali and I created music for this super hero that is break oriented and also straight up hip-hop oriented.”  


On the press run discussing @marvelslukecage with these talented Brothas @mahershalaali @theorossi @alishaheed. Luke cage hits this Friday. #NYC. @netflix #lukecage #marvel

A photo posted by Adrian Younge (@adrianyounge) on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:10am PDT

Younge and Muhammad are taking a cinematic approach to television. Treating each of the 13 episodes as its own story, the composing duo used live instrumentation, a 30-piece orchestra, to make each episode feel sonically and emotionally dynamic.  

“It went through a couple of different phases. Live instrumentation was part of everything that we did. Adrian and I played all of the instruments with the exception of the orchestra. I think maybe there’s a couple of pieces where the drummer for Adrian’s band played on some of the score, as well as a pianist Darrien who played on one of two keyboard parts. Adrian played all the horn,” Muhammad added.

Even though each episode is named after a Gang Starr track, Younge explained that visualizing a specific musical tone for each character helped him determine how to best represent the character’s voice, sonically speaking.

“For Luke we wanted the voice to be one of my favorite singers Loren Oden, she’s on all of my albums. So whenever you see something going on with Luke you hear her as his inner voice,” Younge said. “With [villain] Cottonmouth, when he was young he would play the Rhodes. So we wanted the Rhodes to be his voice. Whenever you hear The Rhodes it feels soulful and Cottonmouth is a soulful dude. He’s like a modern Nino Brown and we wanted the Rhodes to be his sound. But he’s a dark character so we wanted it to sound dark as well. The kind of soul that Cottonmouth has is a little different.”

Muhammad and Younge have organized a concert to showcase their work. Marvel’s Luke Cage , A Live Score, takes place Oct. 6 in Los Angeles. The show features a 40-piece orchestra lead by Brainfeeder Records’ Miguel Atwood Ferguson, an instrumentalist who worked on the Luke Cage score and has recorded with artists such as Rihanna and Flying Lotus.

It doesn’t appear as though Younge’s Spotify tracklist contains every song played in Luke Cage. Nas’ ‘Made You Look’ is just one of the songs played in a lot of the trailers that is missing from the list.

We’ll have to wait until the wee hours of the night to find out. Luke Cage releases on Netflix Sept. 30.


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