Why 'Space Jam' Should Be Revisited Time & Time Again...Especially On Michael Jordan's 52nd Birthday
How does one even begin to describe the radiant greatness that is Michael Jordan? I suppose we could start by listing the various badges he wears as the greatest basketball player and competitor that ever was…but does that even touch the myriad accomplishments the man’s accrued over a nearly 20-year career in the NBA and over 10 years out as the most successful athlete-owned and run sneaker and apparel brand? To put it simply: it does not. And on his 52nd birthday (that’s today!) we’re poised to shine some light on the man that transcended every strata of entertainment with the film that cemented him to pop iconography. That’s right, y’all. Space Jam.
MJ’s silver screen debut was more than just the single greatest CGI feat of the 20th century, it launched Jordan and his brand to unimaginable heights. Now, a whole generation of millennials will forever equate the already cartoonish-ly athletic Jumpman with the likes of Bugs, Daffy, Porky and the Looney Tunes crew that would be more at home in their parent’s childhood reminiscences than their own. So in a way, the film added a sheen of timelessness to the man’s already unparalleled legacy that put him directly in line with some of the most cherished characters in all of American storytelling.
But Space Jam‘s accolades don’t end when the screen fades to black. It is widely acknowledged for possessing one of the most expansive expositions of mid-’90s hip-hop and r&b that ever was. Seriously, perhaps not even Brown Sugar holds a flame to the musical excellence exuded on that soundtrack, which went a whopping 6x platinum (!). Forget the film’s lead, the uplifting ballad-for-all-times “I Believe I Can Fly,” which won R. Kelly his only Grammys in 25 years of recording (and won 3 of them in one fell, uh, swoosh) the shear breadth of musicians tapped for the OST is something of a miracle. You literally see everyone from D’Angelo (who, as D revealed to Nelson George recently in their RBMA talk, originally wrote and recorded Voodoo‘s lead-off “Playa Playa” for the OST) to Michael Jackson to Barry White to Busta Rhymes to Chris Rock to infinity and beyond (ok, mixing up my childhood cartoon references here), providing a generation of future Okayplayers with an introductory course to musical dopeness.
Love letter aside, we’ve provided the entirety of the soundtrack for your nostalgic enjoyment below. If you really want to peer down the hole of time, the film’s original website remains intact and operational for you to peruse at your leisure. What’s more, last week it was announced that Nike & Jordan will be relaunching the Hare Jordan campaign this year to commemorate 30 years of the brand and almost 20 years since the release of the film. We’ll be sure to keep you abreast to any and all developments in that realm, but you should go ahead and take that trip down memory lane with the illest score that ever was. Without further ado, please find below a youtube playlist of every damn track on the Space Jam OST–enjoy the rest of your day! …and Happy 52nd Born Day Mr. Jordan, sir. You remain a treasure to the world and an inspiration to all of us, on or off the court.