ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ Showcase the ’90s Chicago Bulls with the Power of Hip Hop Music

ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’   Showcase the ’90s Chicago Bulls with the Power of Hip Hop Music

For the past three Sunday evenings, over 6.1 million viewers watched The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series broadcast on ESPN featuring the ‘90s NBA Championship team the Chicago Bulls. The series featured the Michael Jordan era and became the highest rated documentary on the network.

From left, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc were big parts of Bulls teams that won three straight NBA titles from 1996 to 1998. Jordan and Pippen were members of the first "three-peat" team, which won titles from 1991 to 1993. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

From left, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc were big parts of Bulls teams that won three straight NBA titles from 1996 to 1998. Jordan and Pippen were members of the first "three-peat" team, which won titles from 1991 to 1993. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Chicago Bulls journey of achieving six NBA championships from 1991 to 1998 culminated to two three-peats with coach Phil Jackson, a historic feat that made the winning team one of NBA’s greatest dynasties.

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These accomplishments were made undoubtedly because of their star player Michael Jordan, who played small forward and shooting guard, alongside of Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, and a  talented roster that included  B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper.

Directed by Jason Hehir, The Last Dance features an on-camera interview of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and explores his winning spirit and dedication to the game.  Hehir incorporates locker room footage, basketball highlights and candid interviews of Jordan’s teammates as well as several of his on court adversaries.

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Album cover art for 'I Ain't No Joke', performed by '90s rappers Eric B & Rakim, featured in the soundtrack of 'The Last Dance' documentary.

But what The Last Dance also revealed was an open time capsule that reminded us Chicagoans of how proud we were of the ’90s Bulls.

One of the highlights viewers enjoyed most was how the documentary used music of that era to correlate with actual events and the story's timeline.

The producers of the film chose a selection of early hip hop, punk rock and new wave music from the late '80s and ‘90s to add to the music scoring. Songs like Hip Hop Hooray (Naughty by Nature),  I Got It Made (Special Ed) and Partyman (Prince) are now credited on the film's official soundtrack.

Sirius (The Alan Parsons Project) is another song that's an integral part of the documentary.  Before each home game at the Chicago Stadium and United Center, Sirius was played as the music introduction for the Chicago Bulls entrance on the basketball court.

the-last-dance-3Hehir used these songs in The Last Dance to emphasize how cool and trendy the Chicago Bulls became in their rise in popularity.  Each music selection made a powerful statement in the film's music-driven video montages to elevate excitement of the Bulls dominance in games against the Detroit Pistons, the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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From Left: Vin Rock, Treach, and DJ KayGee of the Grammy Award winning hip hop group Naughty By Nature. Their hit '90s song, 'Hip Hop Hooray' is featured in the soundtrack of 'The Last Dance' documentary.

For the millennials watching The Last Dance, they probably found themselves bopping to music they weren’t familiar with, while enjoying clips of Michael Jordan dropping fade away jumpers and three-pointers.  But for the rest of us older folks here in Chicago, these songs were part of our victory dance when we partied at the sports bar, dance clubs and backyard parties after every Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls win.

Here are a list of songs featured in the soundtrack of the first six episodes of The Last Dance.

Been Around The World (1997)
Performed by Puff Daddy feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and Mase
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDfemK8Tee8

SUR LE BOULEVARD DU RYTHM’FUNKY’ (1993)
Performed by Song E Mc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xhQzy3J6Pc

I Ain’t No Joke (1987)
Performed by Eric B. Rakim
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TN-kDEKxF0

Sirius (1982)
Performed by the The Alan Parsons Project
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOymHEdiPts

Theme From the Planets (1976)
Performed by Dexter Wansel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT3L9jKveoQ

Hip Hop Hooray (1992)
Performed by Naughty By Nature
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz1Xn1vzOM4&list=RDRz1Xn1vzOM4&start_radio=1

I Got It Made (1989)
Performed by Special Ed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_9GuiE5Fck

I’m Bad (1987)
Performed by LL Cool J
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVDfyc2lh4Q

Can I Kick It (1990)
Performed by A Tribe Called Quest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3pyCGnZzYA

Partyman (1989)
Performed by Prince
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjY8HvpNu6o

The Maestro (1992)
Performed by Beastie Boys
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFPtQr2h0wk

Rosa Parks (1998)
Performed by OutKast
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drsQLEU0N1Y

If I Ruled The World (Imagine That) (1996)
Performed by Nas Feat. Lauryn Hill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlp-IIG9ApU

The Choice Is Yours (1991)
Performed by Black Sheep
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9F5xcpjDMU

Still Not A Player (1998)
Performed by Big Pun Feat. Joe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xue-dOOLiY

I Feel Free (1967)
Performed by Cream
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVcIer_4OnA

How Ya Like Me Now (1987)
Performed by Kool Moe Dee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9_nAZ3VEA0

About the Author:  Don Howze is an Emmy Award Winning Film/Tape Editor and Associate Professor of Journalism and Television Production.  Don is the producer and director of the upcoming film documentary The Production Crew, funded in part by The Field Foundation of Illinois.  imdb.me/dondvideo

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