In ’92 Pac made his acting debut in “Juice” as a power mad youth with a gun in his hand, and a few more bullets than were ever accounted for. ”Juice” got Pac’s stock up and along with his ’93 release “Strictly 4 My Niggaz”, Pac could do no wrong in the entertainment industry. ’93 would also find him acting alongside pop superstar Janet Jackson in which the two would play romantic opposites in the movie “Poetic Justice”. Pac plays Lucky, a single father postal worker whose best friend Chicago played by Joe Terry happens to be dating Janet’s best friend played by Regina King. Janet who plays Justice is a fledgling poet, using any free time to jot a few words in her notebook about love, life, and the ghetto. I remember really enjoying this movie when I was younger, but unfortunately time has done little to reinforce my younger self’s feelings. Essentially, Poetic Justice is a film about new love and in several ways old decrepit love (or I guess you could say lust), but that’s not what really set me off about it this time around. I mean, as a romantic film it works, but something about Janet as an actress has never sat well with me. She’s such a soft spoken and timid person that it really seems abnormal. Joe’s ass whippins’s can really be seen in all the kids, but Mike, Janet, and Toya always seemed the worst off. Back to the film though; after a few verbal scuffles between the two including the hilarious “Fuck You!” scene our two main characters move in towards a romantic involvement that blossoms towards film’s end. Their relationship really begins to take a turn after the group crashes a Johnson Family Reunion. If you’ve never crashed one, I suggest you start hitting your local parks because I’m sure something’s cracking. How the hell they smelt the BBQ driving in a postal truck from the highway beats the hell out of me; they had to be cooking Brontosaurus burgers or something for all that. Poetic Justice is worth a watch and it’s definitely something to chill with your girl too. She’s probably still looking for a little love after this Valentine ’s Day got them emotions oozing.
The soundtrack wasn’t really all that, but it has its moments. Right off the back TLC drops “Get It Up”, which isn’t horrible, but isn’t good either. Morris Day and The Time’s original is one of my all time favorite 80s tracks and has been embedded in my musical history for as long as I can remember. None of the originals freakiness and nastiness was instilled into the remake however. The Time officially killed this track on the extended version with separate solos for both the guitarist and keyboardist and along with the great vocals I really don’t think there was any ’81 single that came close. Actually there are, but I hold this track in high esteem and TLC fucked it up. Naughty By Nature once again holds the soundtrack down most thorough with “Poor Man’s Poetry”. Kay Gee’s production is straight timeless and this track to the day is still amazing not only for its production, but the fiery lyricism that though conscience still comes off rather hard. Pac adds a single with “Definition of a Thug Nigga”. Signature Pac on the verse, but the production from Pac himself could have been better although the hook works damn well. Pete and CL’s “One In a Million” is classic with great trumpet sample and a mood lightened perfectly with jingle bells of all things. As far as the R&B cuts go, Babyface definitely holds down with “Well Alright”, as well as Usher with “The Mack” which could be considered his official day view as a solo artist.
“What you say about my momma?” To this day Menace II Society is and will remain to be my shit. The Hughes Brothers crafted such a realistic and grimy film that it’s impossible to ignore its greatness. Never has a movie presented the life of a black youth in such a gritty well documented manner. What set the film apart was the narrative of its main character Kaine that provided audiences with an understanding of a black youth’s mind state. Years after first seeing this movie I’m still blown away by the acting and the fantastic directorial debut of the Hughes went on to make two more films I consider my favorite, American Pimp and From Hell. Unlike Singleton’s Boyz however, the Hughes crafted their main character as an antihero, or rather just your average youth, a product of circumstance and environment. You’re never really sure if Kaine had a say in his life from growing up in a home where he saw his father (Samuel Jackson) openly murder someone, or a mother constantly high. Let’s not forget friends like Kevin “O’Dog”, who’s not hesitating to bust on the most random of characters from corner store owners to crack heads. Everyone in Menace to Society put up some great acting abilities from Tyrin Turner who also played in Belly and Panther (not much else surprisingly) as Kaine to Larenz Tate’s vicious and sometimes hilarious O’Dog. Along with the great acting the Hughes’ brothers enlisted a few rappers for authenticity including MC Eiht, Yo Yo, and Too Short.
The soundtrack adds to the authenticity as well, pulling from some of the best acts that Hip Hop had to offer. Even to this day if you bring up Menace II Society everyone can name at least two or three tracks and at least five quotes from the film. I always have to throw “Stop Lookin’ At Me” from the Cutthroats out there. The song is complete ruckus in the vain of the Gravediggaz but i can’t honestly say I’ve ever heard anything else by these guys. UGK makes an appearance on the soundtrack with “Pocket Full of Stones” and Pimp C (RIP) drops a very dope verse. Spice 1 brings some a pretty gritty tracks as well, one of which is “Trigga Got No Heart”. Mz. Kilo gets on some nasty with her track “All Over a Ho” where she slams all of the fellas out there trying to keep women down. Of course the best track and verses once again goes to the duo of Pete Rock and CL Smooth. “Death Becomes You” definitely has the production there but this is one of the hardest CL Smooth tracks I’ve ever heard and he kills it. I’m not huge on YGZ popping out of nowhere at the end of the verses though but they doesn’t ruin the song; hell I would have rather had Pete spitting throughout.