A few months back, a new roomie moved in. We got along fine. The bonding moments were sparse but solid: football Sundays, the occasional movie, an episode of The Newsroom here or there. But then an idea dawned on me—we’d up the ante and start watching The Wire, embarking on a quest through the corners, ports, skyscrapers, and interrogation rooms of Baltimore. Shit was about to get real.
It’s no surprise that the show stands up well, but I was shocked by the musical gems that were unearthed while watching it again.
I perked my ears up several times, pulling out my phone like Omar’s double-barreled shotgun to Shazam the tracks.
For instance, check out this scene from the first season where D’Angelo thinks he’s driving to his own execution, with Wee-Bey riding shotty. The cold beat only underscores the dread, making a dark-alley death seem inevitable. It turns out to be an instrumental to a dope Masta Ace joint.
“Unfriendly Game,” a concept track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a GZA record, equates hustling with sports, especially football. Ace spits darts, unwittingly bringing to mind Avon: “It’s hard to get first down, when you new in this tough town/you sell a pound, it’s a touchdown.”
The other standout jam from season one is a sleeper from Sharpshooters. “Analyze” plays during a chase scene when Stinkum gets the re-up snatched by Herc and crew. I scoured YouTube, and could only find a handful of other songs by these dudes. It has a late ’90s, Rawkus records kind of vibe. Bahamadia would be at home with this flow.
“Herbs jumping in my cypher tryin’ to be best friends/now they drowning in the river rocking cement Tims.”
That’s some cold shit. But it’s also a spot-on snapshot of The Wire’s griminess.
Oddly enough, my roomie now has “Analyze” in his iTunes library, one of only a few hip-hop songs. The Wire’s tentacles have a weird influence—the beats are just as hypnotic as the story.