How Spike Lee Got An Unreleased Prince Song Into BlackKklansman

While the film world is currently dominated by thrilling franchises and shared universes, there are certain filmmakers who are essentially living royalty. One of them is director/writer/producer Spike Lee, who has made hyper stylized dramas that often explore the black experience in America. While he's been busy with his Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, a new Spike Lee joint will soon hit theaters with BlackKklansman. Based on a crazy real life story, BlackKklansman follows an African American detective in the 1970's who infiltrates a violent Ku Klux Klan chapter. Like all Spike Lee joints, the soundtrack is a character within itself, and the credits have a particularly exciting track: an unreleased Prince cover. I recently spoke with Lee about the film's soundtrack, where he revealed how that previously hidden song made its way to BlackKklansman.

This is something I've not really said, so you'll be the first to hear it. Me and my brother Prince were close. And while we were in post-production, my good friend Troy Carter at Spotify said, because he's worked with Prince's estate, they had found a cassette in the vault. And he said 'I think I have a song for the end credits' And it was that song. The end credits 'Mary Don't You Weep', which is a Prince rendition of an old negro spiritual. And me and Troy talked and said 'I believe Prince wanted you to have that song.' Because he had 10,000 cassettes in the vault in Minnesota at this place. And for them to discover the cassette with that song on it, that is not a coincidence. And that song just so much captures the movie.

This is some serious movie magic. While music and style icon Prince tragically passed away in 2016, there are still tons of unused songs and footage of the legend at work. And since Spike Lee had a colleague who could connect him with the Prince estate, Spike Lee was able to bring a new Prince song to BlackKklansman, no doubt providing a cathartic bookend to the politically charged project.

Spike Lee joints always have iconic soundtracks, with the director often hand picking the songs used in his film and TV ventures. BlackKklansman actually has much fewer songs than Lee's fans are accustomed to. But each song is used purposefully, and Lee's restraint makes the choices feel more deliberate and focused. And adding an unheard Prince track at the last minute is just the icing on the cake of another visionary project by Lee.

You can see my conversation with Spike Lee below.

Ultimately, the use of Prince's unused "Mary Don't You Weep" is the final coda to an emotional, funny, and political movie. And while there's no big post-credits scene a la the MCU, hopefully Prince's track will entice moviegoers to sit through the entirety of the credits.

Spike Lee's BlackKklansman will arrive in theaters on August 10, 2018. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.