The Halloween theme song is one of the most recognizable songs in pop culture. Since the original movie released in 1978 and the most recent entry in the franchise released in 2022, people have literally been hearing it for decades. Each movie in the series has its own version of the theme, but director and composer John Carpenter created the original. Fans of the series instantly recognize the foreboding piano melody, and even those who have never seen the movies know it means Michael Myers is near. Producers across the years have sampled the theme and used its creepy notes to create an eerie atmosphere for multiple songs. We’ve gathered five tracks that sampled the iconic theme and discussed how some even took their own creative liberties with it to make it their own.
“Murder Ink” – Dr. Dre feat. Hittman & Ms. Roq (1999)
Dr. Dre sampled the Halloween theme song on this beat which pulled many listeners in right away. While everyone associates g-funk with him, he demonstrated his range as his career went on, especially when he produced for other people. This track comes from his critically acclaimed album 2001. In this song, Dre leaves the rapping to features Hittman and Ms. Roq while he and Mel-Man handle production. Both of their verses tell an imagery-filled story of what will happen to those who cross them. The beat takes the sample of the Halloween theme from the 1978 film and speeds it up a little and hard-hitting drums make the aggressive rap verses stand out. During the back half of the track, a synthesizer lets the listener know Dre’s signature touch is still there even if his voice isn’t.
“Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)” – Three 6 Mafia feat. Project Pat, Young D & SuperPower (2008)
Three 6 Mafia is no stranger to using eerie samples and they – along with other Memphis artists – actually used the Halloween theme song several times across their discographies. This track puts the spooky feeling on the back burner as an upbeat, electro-pop, club-based atmosphere takes over. The original version of this song has the official Halloween sample however, the version most people are familiar with has a piano loop that’s very similar to it. Other sounds round out the production, which keep the energy high as the drums skitter and rattle around them. The song finds the group detailing a typical night for them at the club with simplistic but effective and energetic verses. Frequent collaborator Project Pat is featured on the track, while SuperPower handles the hook.
“The Tower” – Ice-T (1991)
Ice-T jumped on the sample of the Halloween theme song and told a story filled with details about life in jail. The theme is slowed down, making it sound scarier. The pitch is also slightly different, and this made listeners wonder if someone played it themselves or if it came from the original soundtrack. Other sounds, like a deep synth and what sounds like an organ, help keep the menacing feeling constant throughout the song. These sounds came courtesy of Bilal Bashir, DJ Alladin, and even Ice-T himself who also has production credits. After each of Ice-T’s verses, another voice comes in that reinforces the story he’s telling as they share experiences from their time in jail. The atmosphere of the song is bleak and every word used depicts the imagery of just how bad of an experience being in jail is.
“Speak My Language” – Nipsey Hussle feat. Lloyd Banks, Cory Gunz & June Summers (2009)
Nipsey Hussle is an artist from the West Coast and surprised many listeners when he got on the Halloween theme song. It’s almost unrecognizable to those unfamiliar since it’s not played on a piano and the pitch of it is completely different. Producer S-Class created something Nipsey would still feel at home while simultaneously creating something unexpected. The context of the song itself has nothing to do with anything eerie or scary at all. It discusses the motivated and focused mindset most of Nipsey’s music was known for and all the features keep the theme mostly consistent in their verses. Cory Gunz opts to focus on wordplay syllabic schemes, which still sound good. June Summers’ hook connects the verses from the three artists. This track shows how the iconic theme can still be present and not take away from the rest of the things happening in the song.
“Deadly Verses” – Gangsta Pat feat. The Villain (1995)
Gangsta Pat is another Memphis artist that utilized the Halloween theme song, and in his case, the spooky feeling was quite strong. This is the title track from his album, which was released in 1995. Other trademarks of Memphis production are all over the track and Gangsta Pat’s rapid triplet flow is the cherry on top of all of it. In addition to the Halloween theme, there’s a second melody that comes from the bass in the song, whose low level has an eerie feeling of its own. Featured artist The Villain shares his verse on the track and establishes the rapid-fire menacing flow and subject matter that Gangsta Pat follows with. He also produced the song himself along with the rest of the songs on the album.
What are some of your favorite hip-hop songs that sampled the Halloween theme song? Let us know in the comments section.