SOUNDTRACKING THE SCENE is an opportunity to look at how Hip-Hop classics have been used in famous movie scenes. Some of our most iconic filmmakers have masterfully incorporated these songs into some of our most acclaimed films; here we examine the synergy.
Deadpool is one of the most beloved superhero flicks of all time. It's the first cinematic showing for longtime Marvel favorite Wade Wilson, the erstwhile "Merc With A Mouth," and fans raved about the movie's penchant for over-the-top violence and impish jokes. As Wilson, star Ryan Reynolds gets to shine in a role he was born to play; and the film also features stellar supporting turns from T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein and Morena Baccarin.
A mercenary who finds out he has terminal cancer, Wilson undergoes a top secret procedure that he's told will heal him. It turns him into a super soldier and brutally disfigures him, so he becomes the masked vigilante Deadpool and becomes hellbent on vengeance against the man he feels is responsible (Skrein.)
In the movie's opening scene, our titular anti-hero is sitting atop a bridge, blissfully swinging his legs as he listens to S-N-P's beloved 1993 hit. Of course, he's perched above this bridge because he's waiting to unleash bloody violence on an unsuspecting crew of thugs. He pauses his music long enough to drop down, draw his blades, and execute a dozen or so baddies, before he's joined by X-Man Colossus and that metal Russian's protege, the surly mutant named Negasonic Teenage Warhead.
Ryan Reynolds' performance as Wade Wilson helped recalibrate his career, and it showed that superhero flicks could be successful with an unflinchingly R-rated approach. Director Tim Miller took a decidedly meta approach to the humor, and Deadpool bumping a lighthearted Salt-N-Pepa dance hit before murdering several people speaks to the film's winning approach to dark humor.
The use of the song itself became something of an adventure for everyone involved.
For her part, Salt said that she didn't realize initially how big this could be.
“I had no idea that it was such a big deal,” Salt told Yahoo back in 2016, after the movie had become a monster hit. “And Pep called me and she was like, ‘Oh my God, They want 'Shoop’ in Deadpool, and somebody’s holding it up!”
Pepa was frustrated that label and publishing companies were slowing down the process.
“I went crazy, I was pissed!,” said Pepa at the time.
The song was eventually cleared, as the ladies suddenly saw their own kids reacting to the song in the Deadpool trailer. “I had no idea it was that huge until the trailer came out, and I showed it to my [16-year-old] son,” Salt recalled. “And he almost passed out. When he saw Ryan on the bridge singing 'Shoop,’ he couldn’t believe it. He was speechless. He was like, 'Mom, you don’t understand how huge this is.’”
DEADPOOL became one of the biggest movies of 2016 en route to becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.
It proved to Hollywood that superhero flicks didn't always have to be family-friendly, setting the table for successes like Logan, also part of the successful 20th Century Fox X-Men franchise.
And "Shoop" was already one of the biggest hits in Salt-N-Pepa's career. The track was written and co-produced by Pepa, and released as the lead single from their multiplatinum album Very Necessary near the end of 1993. Pep had to fight for the song because it wasn't produced by the group's longtime producer, Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor.
“Because it wasn’t a Hurby single, [the label] was giving me pushback," she told RTB in 2020. "But it was my song. It was my song that I came up with and I co-produced and everything. [Salt] believed in the song and [pushed] for it to be a single. We couldn’t afford any mistakes in our career and I don’t have a lot of songs, but when I do, I come with ’em! So I fought for it. And ‘Shoop’ did the thing. But from [their previous album] Blacks’ Magic [Azor] was already reluctant.”
And the song’s placement in the blockbuster sent it back onto the music charts. Soon after the film’s release, "Shoop" shot up to No. 19 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop digital downloads. And Salt-N-Pepa immediately saw the effect it had on audiences too young to remember the '90s.
“Now '90s babies are coming to our concerts, and they actually know the music,” Salt said.
And for Pepa, the song being such a huge hit and landing in such a huge film decades later served as vindication.
“It was a big huge song for me,” she explains. “That particular song — I’m coming from a different place in this group. Salt was doing songs and everything. I have these Pep-isms like ‘You make me wanna shoop!’ And that’s me, very bold, very in your face. Some people might mistake me being very assertive for me being aggressive. [I] have a big voice! What’s my weakness? Men!”