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‘Godfather of Harlem’ debuts Sunday; Dave East & A$AP Ferg share song off soundtrack

A$AP Ferg and Dave East

Upcoming television series Godfather of Harlem premieres on Epix this Sunday (9/29), and is inspired by the true-life story of NYC gangster Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker) and his partnership with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) during an inter-city battle with the Genovese crime family, who took over the city while Johnson was in prison. Aside from a notable cast, including co-stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Giancarlo Esposito, and others, the show’s music is executive-produced by Swizz Beatz, who enlisted several modern-day voices in hip-hop and R&B to set the atmosphere for the 1960s-set show.

In a conversation with the Recording Academy, Swizz Beatz described his philosophy behind the modern musical direction of the show. “The whole concept was to make the music have the heritage of the time period, but also give it a ‘today’ handshake. It’s like meeting heritage with today,” he said.

Beatz went on to describe the creative process while working on the soundtrack, and recalled the experience as being highly collaborative and personal. “99 percent of the artists came in and worked in the studio with us,” he told the Academy. “Everybody was part of the energy. We had like five different rooms going, and I was bouncing in and out of the rooms. We were letting people do what they do and getting direction—and it really worked. You have to have everybody under the same roof to have that energy.”

Among the artists featured within the show’s soundtrack include Rick Ross and John Legend, DMX, Skip Marley and French Montana, Cruel Youth, Jidenna, Sean Cross, Samm Henshaw, and Savage, among others. The newest single to drop from the soundtrack is “Business is Business” from fellow Harlem-based rappers A$AP Ferg and Dave East, whose equally dominating presence throughout the track seems fitting for a show depicting a massive crime boss. Three other songs have also dropped from the show’s soundtrack, which contain features from Emeli Sande, Buddy, Wale, Rick Ross, and DMX.

Hear all those tracks, and watch the trailer for Godfather of Harlem, which premieres on Epix this Sunday (9/29) at 9 PM EST, below.

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