Like this year’s Black Panther, Marvel’s New York-set series Luke Cage has a distinguished cultural and musical identity.
For season one, showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker enlisted former A Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad and producer Adrian Younge to compose a hip-hop-inspired soundtrack, which saw the duo collaborate with fellow East coast hip-hop pioneers Method Man and Faith Evans.
There were performances from some genuine music stars in some of the episodes, too – a chance for the series to pioneer some legends of the New York music scene in much the same way that US teen soaps The OC and One Tree Hill did for up-and-coming indie acts (The Killers, Fall Out Boy and Death Cab for Cutie all made appearances during the nascent stages of their careers).
For season two, there’s an even greater emphasis on the music, with performances cropping up in nearly every episode. Muhammad and Younge have returned to write the score, while further members of the Wu Tang Clan, a favourite of former US President Barack Obama and one of Bob Marley’s sons get to strut their stuff on Disney’s dime.
Check out our guide to the soundtrack in Luke Cage season two on Netflix below.
Season 2 episode 1 – Joi
Who is Joi? A soul singer from Atlanta who has performed with OutKast. She began her music career in 1994, releasing her debut album, The Pendulum Vibe. In the years since, she has collaborated with a varied bunch including Robbie Williams, Curtis Mayfield, Queen Latifah and Run The Jewels.
Episode 2 – D-Nice
(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Who is D-Nice? A DJ who made his name in 1990s New York, and is credited with discovering Kid Rock (but don’t hold it against him). He was a member of hip-hop troupe Boogie Down Productions alongside KRS One.
Episode 202 – Gary Clark Jr
(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for God’s Love We Deliver)
Who is Gary Clark Jr? A renowned blues singer from Austin, Texas. While his cover of the Beatles’ Come Together is his only single to chart in the US (at no 15 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart in 2017), he has long been a coveted figure in the music industry, recording with artists such as Alicia Keys, Childish Gambino and Sheryl Crow.
What does he play? His song If Trouble Was Money.
Episode 3 – Esperanza Spalding
(Photo by Francesco Prandoni/Redferns)
Who is Esperanza Spalding? The 33-year-old bassist and singer has long been regarded as one of the most talented performers in modern jazz music. In 2011, she beat out Justin Bieber to win the Grammy for best new artist, becoming the first non-fusion jazz act to do so. Oh, and she’s also got a hardcore fan in former US president Barack Obama – she played the White House on numerous occasions while he was in office, including his final party in early 2017.
What does she play in Luke Cage? Her 2011 hit, I Know You Know.
Episode 4 – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
(Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
Who is Christone “Kingfish” Ingram? An 18-year-old blues prodigy who garnered attention at the age of 15 after he played at a White House party with the Delta Blues Museum Band. He’s currently gearing up to release his debut album.
What does he play? A cover of BB King’s Thrill Is Gone.
Episode 5 – Ghostface Killah (featuring Adrian Younge)
(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival)
Who is Ghostface Killah? Like his fellow Wu Tang Clan members Method Man, RZA and Raekwon, the rapper has enjoyed a fruitful solo career.
What does he play? A live spin on his track with Luke Cage composer Adrian Younge from 2013’s Twelve Reasons To Die: The Brown Tape called The Sure Shot. It includes the lyric “black superhero with the immortality”, quite appropriately.
Episode 7 – Stephen Marley
(Photo by John Parra/WireImage)
Who is Stephen Marley? An eight-time Grammy award winner, and the son of Bob. He began his musical career at the age of seven as part of The Melody Makers band alongside his brother, Ziggy. Not long after, he began to play with his father’s band, the Wailers. He has released several solo albums of his own, and has produced for his brother Damien, Nas and The Fugees.
What does he play? Chase Dem from his 2007 album, Mind Control.
Episode 10 – Faith Evans & Jadakiss
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Faith Evans was an early signee to Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records, where she met her late husband Notorious BIG. She and Puff collaborated on what is probably her most popular track, I’ll Be Missing You, in the wake of his death in 1997. In May 2017, she released a posthumous collaborative album with Biggie called The King and I, which was branded as “a painful tour through rap’s emptiest vault” by Pitchfork.
Jadakiss is a member of hip-hop group Lox and former member of The Ruff Ryders. He was formerly signed to Bad Boy Records, too.
What do they play? A song from the aforementioned posthumous album, called NYC.
Episode 12 – KRS One
The veteran rapper is best known for his track Sound of Da Police. He was at the forefront of east coast hip-hop in the Bronx in the 1990s. Last year, however, he courted controversy by accidentally name dropping the very-much-alive Beastie Boy Ad Rock in a track dedicated to fallen rappers such as A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, Tupac and Biggie.
What does he play? His song with former group Boogie Down Productions, Love’s Gonna Get’cha.
Episode 13 – Rakim
(Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)
Better known as one half of iconic rap duo Eric B & Rakim. They’ve been broken up since 1993, however – and in the years since Rakim has released a number of well-received solo albums. His 1997 release, The 18th Letter, hit number 4 on the Billboard chart, and convinced Dr Dre to sign him up to Aftermath Records (though he left the label in 2004 citing creative differences with the former NWA member).