A Soundtrack of the Streets: The Music
There would be no dance at all for the characters of STEP UP 2 THE STREETS if it weren’t for the driving music and irresistible beats that inspire them. Coming on the heels of the gold-certified soundtrack for the original “Step Up,” the filmmakers turned again to music supervisor Buck Damon to bring together an equally compelling, yet completely fresh, collection of music tracks. Damon tapped into some of today’s hottest up-and-coming artists in hip-hop, rap and R&B to forge a soundtrack with the same kind of street energy as the film.
“In the first film, you have hip-hop meeting classical dance, but in this film, the story is about dancers wanting to get back to the streets, so that inspired us to go for a real legitimate hip-hop sound,” says Damon. “We really stripped things back, and there’s a lot less orchestration and a lot more singles that are now climbing the charts.”
Damon worked in sync with director Jon Chu, as well as Mitchell Leib, President of Music and Soundtracks for Walt Disney Pictures, and Atlantic Records, who lent the project their roster of young stars, whom Damon notes were “very appealing.”
Heading up the soundtrack artists is female rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Missy Elliott, whose six platinum-selling albums have established her as one of the leading artists of a generation. “One of my personal favorite songs in the film is Missy Elliott’s ‘Ching-a-Ling’—it’s an amazing track and it just fits the film like a glove,” Damon muses.
Damon also recruited Miami-based star Flo Rida and the Grammy®-nominated Southern soulster T-Pain for their song “Low,” which sparked some of Jamal Sims’ most inspired choreography and recently became a No. 1 hit single. He was also excited to bring in Grammy®-nominated Atlanta rapper Yung Joc whose indelible song “Girl You Know” is currently riding up the charts.
Other artists featured on the soundtrack include Spanish pop star Enrique Iglesias; contemporary R&B singer/songwriter Trey Songz; pop/soul girl-group Cherish; Ft. Meyersbased underground hip-hop artist Plies; the Grammy®-nominated Senegalese musical star Akon; the 20-year-old twin R&B stars Brit & Alex; as well as Cassie, the R&B singer who stars in the film as Sophie. Adding more diversity, Irish teen Laura Isibor and the sweet-voiced soul sensation Kevin Michael also add songs heard in the film. “I’m really eclectic, so even though the film has a true hip-hop sound, there’s also an emphasis on lots of different, great melodies—and all those melodic choruses give it a real cinematic feeling,” sums up Damon.
One of Damon’s biggest challenges arose in “swapping out” some of the songs that the dancers had performed to on the set for new songs chosen by the filmmakers in post-production. “It’s definitely something you couldn’t have done before computers,” he says. “It seems like it would be impossible, but once you get the hang of how to match the beats, it’s amazing how you can often make the dance work even better to a new song.”
Also appearing on the STEP UP 2 THE STREETS soundtrack are the winners of the film’s special Sing on the Soundtrack Contest—part of a groundbreaking, interactive Internet campaign for the film which gave “Step Up” fans the chance to participate in the new film by singing on the soundtrack, dancing in a music video or appearing in the film. “It was great fun to give someone a chance to make their own musical hopes come true,” says Damon.
For the filmmakers, the contest was another great way to get back to where the heart of the film lies: out on the streets where new discoveries and new dreams are constantly being made.
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