From Spaise: “As far as music of the early 90s goes, I pretty much draw a blank. Of course I’ve been able to gather a pretty broad collection of the era’s greatest albums but my understanding and opinion of the albums are tainted by the fact that I came upon them so many years and sounds after their release. So, basically what I’m trying to say is that I’ll leave the album “reminiscing” to the experts, Eric and Travis. Rather, and in keeping with the 90s, I’ve decided to speak on a few movies and since we’re looking at 1991 I got the perfect lot, as well as their soundtracks.”
The first one I’m quite sure everyone remembers thoroughly is Boyz in the Hood. This film was a milestone in Black cinema as well as launching the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, and Nia Long. Ice Cube also saw his acting career kick started with the release of Boyz, giving what I believe to be the best acting a rapper has ever given on film. Of course he was portraying a character not to unlike himself but, none the less he did a damn good job. Boyz in the Hood, written and directed by John Singleton gave an unwavering look into what it was like to grow up a black youth in Los Angeles, California and I think at the end, everyone who watched had a better understanding of what it’s like to grow up in a world surrounded by danger and violence. Boyz in the Hood’s soundtrack of course had the best acts of the time including Ice Cube himself, Yo Yo, the 2 Live Crew (Which seemed to be on everything as you will no doubt see), Too Short, and Raphael Saadiq’s crew Tony! Tony! Tone!. Overall the soundtrack was pretty damn good. Highlights included the remix of Main Source’s “Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” where Main correlates street violence with the game of baseball. Monie Love comes through with her fast paced delivery and sweet voice over some pretty nice production on “Work It Out” and it makes for another pretty good cut. At the end of it all though, Tevin Campbell’s “Just Ask Me To” which first appeared on T.E.V.I.N., is by far the best track on the soundtrack. Tevin Campbell used to run shit in the early 90s and “Just Ask Me To” is an extension of his ability for great song making.
New Jack City also came out in 1991 but wasn’t at all as powerful and emotional a film as Boyz in the Hood. New Jack City starred another popular 90s emcee, Iced T, who along with Mario Van Peebles and Judd Nelson would be embattled against drug kingpin Nino Brown, played by Wesley Snipes. To me, New Jack was just a simple knock off of the previous year’s King of New York starring Christopher Walken and once again Wesley Snipes, this go round one of the good guys. New Jack had a few good moments, like the outing of Chris Rock’s character as a snitch or the raiding of Nino’s labs by the police but something about the corniness of the whole film (see: cheese ball look back at crack head Chris Rock’s life) just pisses me off in the end. This is one of my favorite Snipes roles, playing the sinister villain, though I think he beats it when he returns to the role in Demolition Man. Ice T provides the theme song for New Jack City, “New Jack Hustler” highlighted by the pretty slick lyrics of Ice, who apparently “Dies harder than Bruce Willis”. No soundtracks complete without some R&B flavor and Christopher Williams does a great job of providing that on “I’m Dreamin”. Half way through the song Chris sings almost acapella, and really kills it as well as letting out a little Michael Jackson towards the end. Outside of “I’m Dreamin” I have no idea what Chris Williams has ever done, none the less this is some pretty quality 90s R&B. 2 Live Crew comes through pretty hard on “In the Dust” spitting about something other than sex; crazy right? Over a pretty brooding beat and “Scarface” samples the Crew speaks on the drug problem affecting the black community as well as raising several valid points along the way. If you ever want to hear 2 Live, stray from the sex raps, this a great cut to check out.
Last but not least is Hangin’ With the Homeboys, another flick to day view in ’91. Although I’ve seen it I can’t honestly remember what the hell happens in it. I do remember Doug E. Doug and John Leguizamo being pretty good friends and the other guys, especially Nestor Serrano’s character straight punkin’ John’s character throughout the movie until a showdown towards the end. Basically, the movie is about four friends, out on the town, trying to get pussy and due to such a simple premise you can really relate to what the guys go through. Not straying to far from the premise of the film, the soundtrack is mostly party music, and “Dirty Rap” brought to you by 2 Live Crew. A remix of Snap’s “Power” makes the soundtrack which doesn’t come close to the original. In remixing the dance classic all of the progression and anticipation is completely missed and unless you’re a Snap enthusiasts you can pretty much skip this right into Poison Clan’s “Dance All Night”. I’m not sure how long you’ll want to peep this one out either as “Dance” is pretty cheesy in retrospect, and something about the cow bell sound that used to rape almost every dance song of the early ‘90s is pretty much intolerable outside of your local gay club. As whack as this may make me The Knowledge’s “Ticket to Heaven” works for me, in a really weird way. I really can’t explain it but the awful placement of the keyboard effects during the hook is like watching a really pretty model bust here ass on the runway. I can’t help but feel that if this song was engineered a little better that it might have been really good. The only songs that come even close to decent on this are 2 Live Crew’s additions “We Want Some Pussy” and “Hangin’ With the Homeboys and Dr. Feel Good”. Though I might want to suggest skipping “Hangin”, as you will no doubt be pissed off after listening to the hook; a combination of Metallica and a choir.
Boyz in the Hood is no doubt the classic of the bunch and worth a watch if not a few. The other two movies are great watches if you’re bored and looking for something to do, and the same holds true for the soundtracks. Boyz in the Hood’s OST is pretty good but the other two, I wouldn’t recommend other than to just see what was up with the ‘90s. I’m sure you can find something redeeming about them, so I hope you give a pass over….-Spaise