Luke Cage season 2 rocked the Netflix when it dropped over a week ago. People scrambled to watch it, and quickly people were enamored with it. One thing people loved the most? The music.

Today, we’re going to do a comprehensive collection of the music, and give a few notes on why they were so good. The main focus will be on the live performances, as they lasted the longest and meant the most to the episodes. However, a few honorable exceptions will pop up.

Only episodes with confirmed music will be listed. There also will be spoilers, so turn back now if that turns you off.

Otherwise, sit back, relax, and learn even more about the fantastic music of Luke Cage season 2. 

Episode 1: Soul Brother #1

Main Performance: “No Grey Matter (Not Because You Owe Me)” by Joi

Joi is a prominent R&B singer from Atlanta, Georgia. She sings the most songs in the episode, at three.

The main performance, “No Grey Matter”, includes lyrics describing a tumultuous relationship that the woman wants to become clearer. Mariah similarly wants this in her work, not a relationship. She wants to go from gray space, dirty money to clean, legal income. She wants out of the game.

Honorable Mention- “Night Nurse” by Gregory Isaacs

Luke and Claire get hot and heavy to a song called “Night Nurse”. As that’s part of Claire’s comic book counterpart, it’s a clever nod.

Also in this episode-

Joi- “What if I Kissed You Right Now?”

M.O.P- “Ante Up” 

Nina Simone- “He Needs Me”

Joi- “Love You Forever Right Now”

Mobb Deep- “Shook Ones Part. 2”

Episode 2: Straighten in Out

Main Performance: “If Trouble was Money” by Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. is from Austin, Texas. An artist known for his fusion of blues, rock, soul, and hip-hop, Clark Jr. is an eclectic, unique talent. He is currently on tour in Europe.

This episode, Gary Clark Jr.’s song, “If Trouble Was Money” is performed in Harlem’s Paradise. The lyrics and meaning of the song, spelled out in the title, mirror several characters this episode. Mariah, whose trouble is money, is stirring up a bunch of issues in the area with her guns deal. Luke is just trouble, getting in messes with Claire, his father, rent, brand deal offers, and some of these are because of money troubles of his own. The last, Misty, whose troubles aren’t money, but she certainly has troubles stacking up, with work, how people are looking at her, and feeling benched at the job she loves.

Honorable Mention- “Bright Lights” by Gary Clark Jr.

Luke goes full rage-mode on a gang-banger for beating his girl during this song. Talking big game all episode about people knowing his name, the lyrics mirror that sentiment. However, after beating Cockroach, it doesn’t sound as well-meaning or noble anymore. Now it feel like a threat.

Also in this episode-

Clayton Hibbert- “Youth Suffer”

Episode 3: Wig Out

In this episode-

Esperanza Spalding- “I Know You Know”

Ini Kamoze- “World a Reggae (Out in the Street They Call it Murder)”

Barrington Levy- “Under Mi Sensi”

Jeremy & the Harlequins- “Trip Into the Light”

Majestico- “Atropa Belladonna Blues”

Episode 4: I Get Physical

Main Performances: “The Thrill is Gone”  and “I Put a Spell on You” by Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a nationally renowned Blue singer and guitarist. Only graduating high school in May 2017, Kingfish is an impressive artist with amazing talents. He is currently on tour across the U.S.

Kingfish covers “The Thrill is Gone” and “I Put a Spell on You”, written by Roy Hawkins and Jay Hawkins, respectively. The first of the two reflects Mariah’s waning feelings on the Stokes part of herself, as well as Luke’s feelings of loss towards Claire. While they once dove in headfirst, the thrill of those things is gone and they now work to move on.

“I Put a Spell on You” is performed over Bushmaster’s first time in Harlem’s Paradise, emphasizing his plan to put a spell on his rightful birthright: Harlem. And even better, he just gave Mariah the money she needed, while taking her guns business. In one fatal swoop, she has fallen under his thumb.

Another fun connection is that both songs talk about spells. The Jamaican parts of this season highly delves into the voodoo aspects of the culture. Fitting, then, for Bushmaster’s growing hold/effect on Mariah and Luke to be symbolized by spells.

Also in this episode-

Maze- “Golden Time of Day”

Bob Marley- “Hypocrites”

Episode 5: All Souled Out

Main Performance: “The Sure Shot pt.1 & 2” by Ghostface Killah ft. Adrian Younge

Ghostface Killah is an American rapper and a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The group became popular in the mid 1990’s and Ghostface would create his first solo LP in 1996.

The song, “The Sure Shot”, is performed during Piranha’s party. The song talks about being invincible regardless of challengers. The lyrics are spoken aggressively and the imagery of murder, battles, and invincibility mirror Luke’s defensive, protective stance on his aggression. And, of course, his position on Bushmaster’s opposition. He may have knocked him down, but he’s stuck on still being invincible.

Episode 7: On and On

Main Performances: “You’re Gonna Leave” and “Chase Dem” by Stephen Marley

Stephen Marley is the son of the late Bob Marley and his wife, Rita. Stephen has been doing solo albums since 2007 and is an eight-time Grammy winner. Like his father, he is dedicated to the art of reggae music.

Both of Marley’s songs are meaningful and easy to understand. “You’re Gonna Leave” is the antithesis of how Tilda acts later in the episode. However,it does foreshadow troubles between Tilda and Mariah before they even start.

“Chase Dem” represents the corrupt justification of the backdoor politics. Especially, when people just brush them off as “they are what they are”. In this episode, Luke barely comes back from the dead, Mariah and Tilda nearly die, and all for power over Harlem.

Best of all, though, is the reggae music confirms Bushmaster’s control over Harlem coming into fruition. The music reflects the power players in this show, after all.

Also in this episode-

The Midnight hour, Adrian Younge, & Ali Shaheed Muhammed- “Feel Alive”

Episode 9: For Pete’s Sake

Honorable Mention- “Bushmasta Remix” by Noiseshaper

This song, playing in the background of the Jamaican raid on Rand Tech, was beautiful, brilliant, and stole any musical heart away. It deserves a gold star.

Episode 10: The Main Ingredient

Main Performance: “NYC” by Faith Evans and Jadakiss

Faith Evans is the widow of Notorious B.I.G., the original rapper for the single “NYC”. She has been a singer in the R&B world since 1994. Judakiss was featured on the original single, but for the show takes over all rapping portions.

“NYC” is befitting the episode, where all of the cast contemplate how much Harlem, and NYC, mean to them. Danny Rand (Iron Fist) and Luke are talking about hero life and how they can help each other protect all of NYC. Mariah is fighting for her hold on Harlem from Bushmaster. Misty is battling to diffuse the crime situation, be it Mariah, Bushmaster, or any others involved. Everyone is duking it out because of their love for NYC.

Also in this episode-

Wu-tang clan- “Wu-tang, 7th chamber, pt. 2”

Episode 11: The Creator

Songs in this episode-

Adrian Younge- “Dusts of Gold”

Crucial Music- “Way Down Inna Babylon”

Episode 12: Can’t Front Me

Main Performance: “Love’s Gonna Getcha” by KRS One

KRS One is a Brooklyn-born rapper who focuses a lot on gangster and social conscious rap. His name even stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone. He’s been rapping on the big scene since the mid 1980’s.

His song “Love’s Gonna Getcha” is amazing in this episode for two reasons: Shades and Mariah, and what happens next. The chorus line “love’s gonna getcha” is exactly what happens to Mrs. Stokes. Shades, her boyfriend, is the one to turn her over to the cops. But even more interestingly, is that the entire song talks about how dangerous and hard the streets are. Exactly how the streets go when there’s no Mariah to ward off the other gangs. Love got Harlem in so many ways.

Also in this episode-

Souls of mischief & Adrian Younge- “Miriam got Mickey”

Adrian Younge- “Black Noise”

Wu-tang clan- “Shame on a Nigga”

Adrian Younge- “April Sonata”

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge- “Return of the Savage”

KRS-One- “Jack of Spades”

Episode 13: They Reminisce Over You

Main Performance: “King’s Paradise” by Rakim

Rakim is one half of a golden age duo, Eric B. and Rakim. Fitting, how Luke Cage is one half of the golden age duo, Power Man and Iron Fist. Rakim and his partner’s album Paid in Full was named greatest album ever by MTV in 2006.

Rakim’s “King’s Paradise” is a new original song just for Luke Cage. Even says his name. Hard for people not to know your name then. The song solidifies Luke’s slide downward from boy scout hero to a bit more of an anti-hero. All season he’s proved more and more willing to do whatever it takes to protect Harlem. And now, he shows he’s even willing to take it over. His name went from a sign of hope to a call of power. The song ends the season with Luke Cage running Harlem’s Paradise, and one can only wonder where the new King of Harlem will end up next.

Honorable Mention- “Family First” by Gabrielle Dennis

After Tilda’s chilling decision to murder her mother, she sings and plays a song on her cousin Cornell’s keyboard. All season, Mariah has been pushing the phrase “family first”. As Tilda sings, you can feel and hear how hollow that statement has become to her. Especially since the family she thought she knew has warped into something monstrous. And the largest monster of all is her mother. Its as if to say she’s changing things for herself, and to do that she’ll start with family first.

Also in this episode-

Sharen Clark & The Product of Time- “That’s a Good Reason”

James Brown- “The Payback”

Adrian Younge- “Jimmy’s Apartment”

Bob Marley and the Wailers- “Redemption Song”

Rufus ft. Chaka Khan- “Sweet Thing”

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