For as long as there have been Rocky movies, there have been accompanying soundtracks that not only set the tone for the films but have featured songs that since went on to become nothing short of iconic. The classic theme song, of course, has been used for everything from sporting events to electronics, and rock band Survivor wouldn’t have had a career at all if it weren’t for “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III and “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV.
Alas, times have changed, and Hip Hop is the dominant musical force in the world. It stands to reason that the Creed II soundtrack would follow in that vein.
As a point of clarification, there are two Creed 2 albums. One is titled Creed 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack that features the instrumental score by Childish Gambino’s right-hand man, Ludwig Göransson. The album we’re reviewing here, for obvious reasons, is Creed 2: The Album, which features nonstop adrenaline-fueled Hip Hop from today’s top rappers.
Super-producer Mike WiLL Made-It is behind the boards for the Creed 2 album, and his presence provides a consistency throughout the album that was woefully absent in the Rocky brand of soundtrack albums. Naturally, the first single from the album “Kill Em With Success” (which features Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz and Eearz) delivers an uppercut, as does the follow-up Pharrell/Kendrick Lamar-powered track, “The Mantra.”
As is expected, the theme of the album involves fighting, conquering demons, and victory over the opponent. Some songs are stronger than others, of course, but there are no “bad” songs on this compilation.
For example, part of the A$AP mobsters Ferg and Rocky team up with Nicki Minaj for the fast-paced “Runnin’,” and Minaj’s “Mixtape Nicki” days get a nod and a wink as she fires off bars like “Anyway I want it, I’ma take it like a klepto/Anybody want it? They can get it/Come correct though/Talk behind my back/but when they see me, it’s respect though/I still got the crown/so I never give an F, though.” It’s a high-energy song that works well for the theme of the album, and makes you feel like you’re “runnin'” alongside Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed in the same way “Gonna Fly Now” made you want to put on grey sweatsuits and conquer the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (which have since been renamed to “The Rocky Steps“).
On the other hand, though, “Fate” — which features Young Thug and Swae Lee — isn’t a bad song, per se, but it’s woefully out of place here for a number of reasons (not least of which include Thug yodeling like the Ricola Man).
Overall, the album is a solid one, and easy to play from beginning to end. Indeed, Mike WiLL Made-It himself has said that he wanted people to feel like “movie soundtracks are back,” and this particular one just happens to double as reliable workout playlist.