Why Securing Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ Was Important to ‘Dumb Money’s’ Storytelling

The song most important to Craig Gillespie’s storytelling in “Dumb Money” is Cardi B’s 2020 hit, “WAP.”

Set in 2021, the film follows a group of common-man stock traders who take on the titans of Wall Street. Music supervisor Susan Jacobs says, “We had a very particular time period where it was really important to the writers because that was the moment of GameStop.”

Paul Dano plays Keith Gill a.k.a Roaring Kitty, the family man who follows stock for a hobby and gains a huge following. Seth Rogen is hedge fund manager Gabe Plotkin, who hears about the inexplicable sudden rise in GameStop shares and aims to get to the bottom of it. Jacobs knew she wanted at least three recognizable songs. She says, “I wanted something that would set us back in COVID and that time.” Her challenge was how to design a soundtrack with a limited budget. “I had to figure out how to get the three songs and figure out the rest.”

Figure it out is exactly what Jacobs did. She knew the music surrounding the hedgefund characters would be edgy: “Cardi B, Drake and Megan Thee Stallion.“

“I started making calls to my favorite hip-hop producers.” She continues, “This is a David and Goliath story, and I needed the songs to make a movement.”

“This is a collaboration between artists,” says Jacobs of how she landed “WAP.” “It was about getting people to understand the story and the scenes.”

Trying to secure “Savage” proved to be a challenge: “That was important to the story. It was in the script because that was the big TikTok dance at the time. But we couldn’t license any Megan Thee Stallion masters at the time because there were legal issues going on with them. They were frozen.” However, Megan allowed the production to use the song.

With that, Jacobs turned to Mark Baston, the producer behind Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and 50 Cent. “We produced a new version of that song, but that was the most challenging because we wanted to do justice to it and make a great version that felt right for the producer.”

With Baston on board, along with “WAP” and a version of “Savage” secured, Jacobs could navigate her budget issue. “I needed young artists in there and we need to start making songs. That’s what we had to do, and he went out to get new songs. He also got songs out of his catalog and reworked them.” She adds, “I’m happy I can put those songs next to Megan and Kendrick.”

Among the reworked songs were versions of Cardi B’s “Lit Thot,” which Baston re-wrote with Rob Bressler and performed with Boom Boom. The song plays as the stock company Robin Hood is introduced.

“That was one of the hardest to replace,” says Jacobs, only because Gillespie wanted the song to be raunchier and edgier. “But that song was the representation of the Robin Hood guys.”

Jacobs brought in new composer Will Bates to weave in among the soundtrack. The balance between score and song was mainly used for Dano’s character. “That’s where we brought score in,” she says. “For those scenes with Paul, we went more melodic for him.”

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