Why ‘I Got 5 On It’ Was So Important In ‘Us’

Jordan Peele has recently taken on the daunting task of not only rebooting The Twilight Zone but taking a role previously held by the dearly beloved narrator and Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Despite the tension from audiences waiting to see how Peele adapted the disillusioning series, people are still talking about Jordan Peele’s originals, specifically the recently released horror movie, Us.

What is the plot of ‘Us’?

Us was released March 22. The movie was both written and directed by Academy Award winner Jordan Peele. The movie is about a mother, Adelaide Wilson, returning to her childhood beachfront home with her husband, son, and daughter. Adelaide is haunted by a traumatic event that occurred as a child. As she becomes more and more scared and apprehensive something bad is going to happen, her fears become a reality when four masked strangers approach her house. The Wilsons descend into a fight for survival but the horror deepens when their masks come off.

What inspired the unique soundtrack?

It’s no question that the Us soundtrack is unlike any other movie. Michael Abels is the man to thank for that. He spoke to MTV news about what went into creating the unique soundtrack. He told MTV that Peele likes to hear the music intended for the movies even before anything is filmed. It helps him visualize the sonic aspect of the world as well as the visual aspects. Peele said he wanted to experiment with the duality of music since the movie is so intertwined with the idea of duality. Abels was, “experimenting with traditional and nontraditional sounds specifically to come up with the sonic palette for Us.”

Why was ‘I Got 5 On It’ so important?

Abels tells MTV the recurring song was originally intended to be the song “Pas De Deux” from the Nutcracker. It was to be slowed down and mixed until it represented its horrific surroundings. It was chosen because pas de deux is a ballet term and translates to duet — which goes back to the theme of duality in the movie. But Abels told MTV that after the audience’s reaction to the trailer it was clear they needed to use “I Got 5 On It.” He said Peele wanting to change the song based on the trailer stemmed from his life of improv comedy and being ready to base his creativity on what the audience responds strongly to.

The Wrap did an in-depth analysis into the song “I Got 5 On It” and its place within the film. The first important moment relating to the song is that it foreshadows something about Adelaide: As she tries to calm her anxieties about returning to the beach house, she tells her son to snap along to the song but she’s clearly missing the beat, telling us there’s something off about her.

Jordan Peele, Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke at the Us movie premiere
Jordan Peele, Lupita Nyong’o, and Winston Duke arrive for the New York premiere of “Us” | JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

The song “I Got 5 On It” was written and performed by rapper Luniz. It refers to having a five dollar bill to pitch in for drugs. The Wrap says about “I Got 5 On It:” “The song remains such an earworm 24 years after its debut because nothing about its music sounds trivial. The music has overtones of hurt and betrayal. Needless to say, the song’s complexity serves Us very well.”  It’s revealed later in the film the family had to pay a terrible price to be happy, and that their peace of mind was built upon deception and ignorance.

The Wrap also explains that the song’s complexities are due to its origin story. The song was created within a history of Luniz being betrayed by friends, creativity, and innovation when one is being held back. They elaborate, “So yes, ‘I Got 5 on It’ is about drugs. But it’s also about duality, and second chances… and, to some, betrayal. Just like Us.”