The Sound of the ‘Broad City’: A Musical Guide to TV’s Coolest Comedy

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About a month before they shot the dorm room bong lesson that anchored the Broad City Season 2 premiere, the episode’s director was on the hunt for the perfect song to set the scene. “The director of the episode [Lucia Aniello] hit me up mid-summer to be like, ‘Hey, we may have this crazy smoke trick guy, I want to send him the perfect song for him to do this crazy thing on the show,'” says Matt ‘FX’ Feldman, the Broad City music supervisor.

FX must have sent close to 50 tracks, including “Infinite Daps,” a low-key trap banger with a menacing feel from “Harlem Shake” DJ Baauer and recent collaborator RL Grime. To Feldman, the song’s inclusion was a joke, due to Baauer’s high profile. With his tight budget, FX assumed he wouldn’t be able to secure “Infinite Daps” for a synch even if the director liked it. But his industry connections — and having one of TV’s coolest comedies as his platform — proved to be enough. It felt like exactly the kind of thing NYU bros would listen to while getting high midday.

From Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” in the now-famous nod to Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Super Dupa Fly)” video last season, to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” soundtracking Abbi’s naked strut last week, the scene-stealing montage song plays an important role on Broad City — and will continue to as Season 2 progresses (FX says to keep an eye out for a big party-hopping episode, and a montage in thrift store Beacon’s Closet). But it’s also just one way Matt FX uses music to flesh out Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s wild and weird New York. Five-second transitions of electronic and hip-hop beats help to keep up the Comedy Central show’s pace.

“I think what makes the show so successful is its identity, and I definitely think that because we’re in the girls’ world. It’s not necessarily New York, as much as it’s their New York,” Feldman says. “They love old school hip-hop, they love boom-bap beats, they love Missy Elliott. I think we try to reflect that as much as possible.”

While the budget doesn’t facilitate Missy synchs, Elliott’s embrace of electronic music and R&B through the lens of party-friendly raps does, in many ways, define the sound of Broad City. A handful of emerging producers and artists are at the center of the show’s transition and background music, giving it a distinct sound: Hot Sugar’s warped hip-hop beats with a twinge of house music, Ana Tijoux’s brash Spanish flow, Photay’s breezy electro-funk, and Jaw Jam’s ambient house jams, just to name a few. (The show’s infectious, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it theme, in case you were wondering, comes from DJ Raff’s “Latino N’ Proud.”)

Matt FX (Photo by Jelena Aleksich)
Matt FX (Photo by Jelena Aleksich)

A New York native, DJ, and musician himself (under the pseudonym Scooter Island), Matt FX finds the majority of the new artists that end up in the background of Broad City via Facebook solicitations. Assuming his budget increases in season three, Feldman has his eye on artists like iLoveMakonnen and Azealia Banks.

“For the most part — and this might sound bad — but I’ve almost given up working with labels, cause it’s not their fault that they need as much money as they need,” Feldman says. “We just don’t have it. And St. Vincent doesn’t need much more exposure, for example. But these producers, these young rappers, these on-their-grind people, they could all use it [the exposure]. In some instances, they need it one week, and then they don’t the next. In the first season, there was a track we were almost going to synch. Our director waited a week on it, Skrillex signed the artist, and the price went up by 20 grand. It happens, but at the moment, I’m able to work with artists who are still on the cusp, still willing to have this be for exposure.”

On the next page, Matt FX highlights ten tracks that will define the sound of Broad City’s second season.