When Spike Lee talks, you listen. So what Spike Lee listens to, you should listen to as well. The legendary director’s latest film, Oldboy, a reinterpretation of the 2003 South Korean hit, has already sparked much conversation. But one thing you can count on is for Spike to go the extra mile to make sure he puts his stamp on it from every angle.

When Spike was tasked with creating a playlist (listen below) to represent the movie and the premise behind it, he didn’t just choose a bunch of songs he wanted to hear. He challenged himself. Typical of the director, whose résumé is bolstering with films that challenge us as an audience and a society. Take a journey into Spike’s mind as we sit down to discuss the challenge of creating a playlist for someone who’s been imprisoned for 20 years, and talk about the film that’s sure to create some buzz come Oscar season.

Interview by Nick Grant (@NicholasGrant)

As I look through this playlist, I remember you saying that you only chose Billboard Top 100 hits. Why is that?
Because I wanted to do an experiment. I wanted to see how many songs I loved that didn’t make the top 100 R&B/Hip-Hop list. And most of the songs I had never heard of. I might know some by hearing them, but not just by reading it. So, once again, I guess my musical tastes aren’t in line with what sells.

Could you go a little bit more into the playlist, how you put it together, and how it may have inspired the music behind Oldboy?
Well, none of the songs are in Oldboy. We didn’t have the budget for it. We just have score, but the way this was presented to me was that, if I was to have a playlist and I was locked up for 20 years, what music would I listen to? So I looked at it another way; I said to one of the people I work with, “Let’s get the list of the top 20 R&B/Hip-Hop songs of the last 20 years.” And she pulled the info for me, and I just went through each song for each of the 20 years and tried to come up with [the best]. And no disrespect to any of the artists, there are probably a lot of artists for the songs I love on that particular album of that particular year that didn’t become a top 100 single. Especially, I mean, look at songs that came off of my films. Look at the Stevie Wonder soundtrack from Jungle Fever, that wasn’t there. A whole bunch of stuff wasn’t there. So, it was an experiment for myself.

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