Coming off yesterday’s “Funny or Die” bit imagining ’80s soundtrack king Kenny Loggins performing on-the-nose themes to movies like The Help and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it seems like a joke of some sort to hear that Nas and Rick Ross are doing a theme for upcoming crime comedy Tower Heist, appropriately titled “It’s a Tower Heist.” The explicit movie theme song is kind of a dead art, and you rarely see artists at or near the top of their game signing on to perform such choice soundtrack cuts, especially for movies as silly-looking (for reasons both purposeful and not) as the Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy-starring Heist. But here’s what’s really surprising about “It’s a Tower Heist”: It’s actually kind of awesome.
First, the bad news: At no point in the song does either MC go “Tower heist, it’s a tower heist“—a missed opportunity for sure, especially for an honors student of hip-hop history such as Nas. Aside from that, it’s almost entirely a winner—a badass stomper with a beat (courtesy of Salaam Remi, of “Made You Look” fame) built around low-pitched, menacing horns (almost a la “Simon Says“) alternating with occasional higher-pitched section of strings and eerie synths that create a cool kind of tension/release current running throughout the song.
The beat’s a blockbuster for sure, and a couple pros like Nas and Rick Ross certainly know what to do with it. Both are at their most authoritative over the track, sounding appropriately boss on the verses, Nas boasting about being living “one hundred years, like crocodiles” and Ricky rhyming “Got my J’s on” with “I feel ama-zon.” Nas gets to sum up on the chorus: “You want respect, money and power, right / Well let’s ride tonight, it’s a power heist.” (His pre-and-post-chorus claim is even better: “Even Donald Trump can get it.”)
The duo do an impressive job of making the song feel cinematic without being two explicit about its soundtrack roots. Even the fact that it’s titled “It’s a Tower Heist”—a rather inconspicuous-sounding phrase at first blush—fits into the song without being distracting. Really, it doesn’t even need the movie—it’s the sound of a sleek, successful bank robbery all on its own, even without the accompanying visuals.