There are two things one can always expect from a Quentin Tarantino film: lots of blood and lots of classic tunes (often in tandem).
From the (literal) ear-splitting “Stuck in the Middle With You” in “Reservoir Dogs” to the toe-tapping “You Can Never Tell” in “Pulp Fiction,” the auteur is adept at finding new uses for old songs. But for his latest, “Django Unchained,” Tarantino broke fresh ground, using a number of original songs for the soundtrack.
“[I’ve] never really asked an artist to write a composition for any of my movies because I don’t know if I’m going to like it, and even if I do like it, I don’t know if it will work with one of my films,” Tarantino told MTV News during a recent press event for the film, which opened Christmas Day. “I never wanted to put myself in that embarrassing situation.” But that all changed when nine-time Grammy Award-winner John Legend sent him a track called “Who Did That To You?”…on a cassette tape of all things.
“He had heard about the movie,” Tarantino explained. “I think he had seen the commercial or something, and he liked the idea of what the movie was about so he wrote a song, not having read the script, he wrote a song that he thought could fit into what he thought I was trying to do and put it on cassette tape. I don’t know if I would have actually listened to it if he hadn’t have put it on a cassette tape. Well, I might have listened to a CD. If he had sent [a flash drive] to me, that would have sat in my hotel room never to be listened to.”
But listen he did, as did the cast, including Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, who dug the song.
“We would just sing it during the day, and I just kind of figured out where I could use it,” Tarantino said. “Then other artists started hearing, like, ’You mean that worked?’ So then all of a sudden, other songs started coming in.”
One track that materialized not from a solicitation but a serendipitous team-up was Rick Ross’ “100 Black Coffins,” which came to be after Foxx attended the BET Awards and extended an invitation to Rozay to visit the set.
“Rick Ross and his team came on set — we all got a contact high just standing next to his jacket,” Tarantino joked. “It was really cool. We had a little sizzle reel that we showed at Comic-Con, so we showed him and his peeps that, and they loved it, and Jamie came up with the chorus of the song right then and there. And we were like, ’Oh, man, that sounds good.’ That could be a black western song. Rick came up with the rap and Jamie produced it.”
But, as Tarantino had been dreading, he did have to turn down one song: Frank Ocean’s “Wiseman.”
“His song was beautiful. It just didn’t fit in,” Tarantino said. “He wrote it, one, because he liked the idea of the movie and particularly because he likes my movies and the way I use music in my movies. So I could have used it in an innocuous way, but that’s not what he wanted. I thought it would be disrespectful just so I could have it and just so I could put it on the soundtrack. But it’s a beautiful song. I’m sure it’s going to be a big hit for him.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Django Unchained.”