Producer, composer and songwriter Mark Batson recently discussed his work on the Golden Globe-winning film, American Hustle. In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, the Brooklyn, New York native details how he helped craft the music behind one of the movie’s crucial scenes, as well as his experience working with director David O. Russell.
“I know Sue Jacobs, who was the Music Supervisor,” Batson says. “There was a scene in the movie where they had ‘White Rabbit.‘ They were replacing some songs in the movie and they were trying to find a way to replace that. The pacing of it was so unique and the way [Jefferson Airplane’s] Grace Slick sings it—the pacing of it. But they didn’t want it in the movie because it’s been used in a lot of movies. I was just watching Platoon, and there was a scene where they start smoking in Platoon and ‘White Rabbit’ comes on. It’s been in a lot of movies.”
Since the English version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is a Hollywood favorite, Batson suggested that they re-work the offering and bring in a vocalist to sing the song in another language. “I can have someone else come and sing it,” he says. “It just can’t be in English.
“The supervisor was like, ‘Cool,’ and we started throwing around other languages,” Batson continues. “They were like, ‘Arabic,’ because there’s a scene in the movie where this whole Arab thing kicks in. So we went in and reconstructed it. We auditioned some singers and we found a singer who was fantastic and she came in and did that. That became the music behind that whole segment in the middle of the movie. It’s really cool because [Robert Di Niro] starts speaking Arabic and it throws you off because he’s a gangster and he starts talking to a dude who’s supposed to be Arabic but he’s not really. He’s Latin. It’s a really cool scene and they kept that. It was the only thing that was replaced in the whole movie. It was good.”
Batson also enjoyed working with director David O. Russell, who he believes will be one of Hollywood’s next great directors. “It was great to get to work with him because he’s a genius,” Batson says. “I hate to compare one person to another but, the next [Martin] Scorceses or whatever, he’s that next great film director. So to get to work with him and hang out with him—he’s a real cool person to hang out with. It was fantastic and it was good to be a part of that. I think he’s going to win an Oscar or two for [American Hustle].”
In addition to Dr. Dre and Eminem, Mark Batson has worked with Jay Z, Raekwon, Game, Beyonce, Dave Mathews Band, Maroon 5 among others. In 2013, Batson completed the first issue of his three-part graphic novel, Loaded: The Story Of A Ghost, which is about an underprivileged kid from Manhattan’s Lower East Side who ends up in the highest rungs of an Illuminati-type organization. As part of The Roostar Incorporated, Batson released the song “Murdering PSA” which features Bishop Lamont. Listen to “Murdering PSA” below.