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Jamie Foxx Gives Us the Backstory on Django’s ‘100 Black Coffins’

Actor Jamie Foxx attends the Los Angeles Premiere of
Jamie Foxx. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Jamie Foxx may be an Academy Award–winning actor (and likely suiting up as supervillian Electro in the next Spider-Man) — but he’s not above rapping on the red carpet. In fact, he did just that for Vulture last night, at MoMA’s Tribute to Quentin Tarantino. We asked Foxx, who plays the titular escaped slave in the director’s forthcoming Django Unchained, about producing the whistle-heavy “100 Black Coffins” for Rick Ross. (The film’s soundtrack marks the first time Tarantino has commissioned original songs for a score, and Foxx said the director “knew everything about Rick Ross” by the time the Miami rapper arrived on set.) “I did some studying,” Foxx told us. “And back in the day, when you whistle in Westerns, that meant it was on.” 

“You guys are probably too young to remember this, but Lawrence Welk used to have shows where the cowboys would come on with the white hats and they had those, ‘Ahh … haa … ahh … haa … ahh … haa … ahh …’” the Grammy-winning actor said, singing. “So then I went to my studio at the crib and said, ‘Okay, we are going to whistle, [in the tune and rhythm of the song’s whistle part] Ahh … haa … ahh … haa … ahh … haa … ahh …’”
Then, Foxx started rapping the refrain he first wrote for Ross in his dressing room on the Django set. “I need a hundred black coffins for a hundred bad men / a hundred black … So anyway, I finished the track at my house, drive to Quentin Tarantino’s house ‘cause he doesn’t like computers, let him hear the track, then drive over to the SLS Hotel, let Rick Ross’s people hear the track, and then it was a matter of getting them on the track. I said ‘Rick, I want you to do first and the second verse,’ and without seeing the movie, Rick said, ‘Well I haven’t seen the movie, what do I rap about?’ And I said, ‘Well, rap about the fact that someone took someone you love, or your mom, or your daughter, or your wife.’”
Foxx then built the song out from there. “I took his vocals, the first and second verse, and then I reconstructed the track. So at the first part of the track is hip-hop, the back beat, and then the second half is like cinematic, it’s like, “Za … za … zah … mmm … zah … zum … mmm … za … zum … and then the strings and things come in.” Oh, that was too hard to read? Then just listen to it.

Jamie Foxx on How ‘100 Black Coffins’ Came to Be