Music supervisor Morgan Rhodes worked alongside co-music supervisor Kier Lehman to craft the soundtrack to “Space Jam 2: A New Legacy, in addition to working in classic needle drops such as “Ghetto Superstar.”
This time around, the film follows stars LeBron James as he and his young son, Dom, get trapped in the Serververse by a rogue AI world that’s home to the Warner Bros IP. James rallies Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Looney Tunes gang for a high-stakes basketball game.
Rhodes was charged with crafting a soundtrack and collaborating with artists such as John Legend, Chance the Rapper, Brockhampton, Saweetie and Lil Baby to develop original songs for the film.
What was the key factor to building this soundtrack?
We wanted songs that were fun as we ushered in a new generation. We wanted songs that would help move the excitement as the game moves, and we wanted to give a nod to what came before. So we had Salt -N-Pepa and the reimagined “Pump Up the Jam.”
Early on with young LeBron, you have “Ghetto Superstar,” which is a classic and an anthem for so many people that grew up in the ’90s. Why that?
We wanted to timestamp that. It was when LeBron was young, and we wanted to bring audiences into that moment. We wanted to bring audiences into LeBron’s life, as a young man growing up. I thought it was a great song to start the film with.
Again, “Pump Up the Jam” was another epic tune. People use it for motivation when working out. What made Lil Uzi Vert your perfect artist to reimagine that?
It’s just such a big, big tune. I thought he was the perfect artist to take this on. He has a cult following and he’s an influencer. He brought a lot of swag to the song, and he brought it into the now. We thought who better to do it than him.
You also bring in Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Wayne, Chance the Rapper to John Legend. What notes did you give them?
It was so organic. With Salt-N-Pepa and “Hoops,” it just came together. It’s with Kash Doll and Saweetie, but Salt-N-Pepa have been the architects of hip-hop music for 30-plus years and were just so representative of the culture. This was also about passing the baton. We loved having those women together on a track.
Across the soundtrack, we have people at multiple levels of music. John Legend establishes. We have Big Freedia who is the queen of bounce and celebrated worldwide and representing Portland’s drag scene. There’s Duckwrth. The goal overall was to unite generations culturally sonically and introduce new faces and established artists.
What was the story behind getting Big Freedia for “Going Looney”?
When we got that song, we were blown away. i listened to it three times and was grabbing myself. She is the queen of bounce, and it’s very bounce. It works. It was perfect to dance to separately, but also just within the action of Looney Tunes. That song was love at first listen.
Talk about “We Win” with Kirk Franklin and Lil Baby.
That was really special because it marries two of the biggest stars in two different genres. Lil Baby is the biggest star in hip-hop today. We had an icon from hip-hop and gospel. To have them come together was unbelievable. Lil Baby is international, but it’s about bringing everything together and unity.
Was there pressure in following the success of the first “Space Jam?”
We both loved the original soundtrack, but I don’t know that we necessarily felt pressure. We were just so excited to continue what had been started. Music has changed, but we have an opportunity to showcase the natural sound of music, as well as bringing in artists who were on the first soundtrack.