You thought it was over? Not quite. I stopped buying movie soundtracks a while ago, mainly because they started really sucking, but damn, you had some good ones back in the day. It’s just another example of how things have changed, it gives a cantankerous old man something more to bitch about. As usual, I have to get my two cents in and the final word. My distinguished colleague BC did an excellent job covering the roles of soundtracks played in hip hop and throwing up some of the best ones. All my favorites were present, Juice, Menace II Society, and even The Show. However he did skip over three of my favorites. What are those you ask yourself as you try to hide this window behind your work email? Well, Colors, CB4 and Boyz N The Hood were all three soundtracks that got just as much play from me back in the day as a lot of the albums.
Colors (Warner Bros, 1988)
1 Ice-T – Colors
2 Decadent Dub Team – Six Gun (44 Mag Mix)
3 Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Let The Rhythm Run
4 Big Daddy Kane – Raw
5 Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full (Seven Minutes Of Madness – The Coldcut Remix)
6 Kool G Rap – Butcher Shop
7 7A3 – Mad Mad World
8 Roxanne Shanté – Go On Girl
9 MC Shan – A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
10 Rick James – Everywhere I Go (Colors)
For a Hollywood contrived film about the hood, this isn’t actually a bad movie. Sure, it’s got the typical Hollywood glamor and glitz with a young and cocky Sean Penn teamed together with veteran actor Robert Duvall to do a fairly decent job of portraying cops on the gang beat. Dennis Hopper directed the film, which probably has something to do with the quality of the flick.
This was probably my first visual exposure of the L.A. gang culture. I had already be introduced to NWA through their NWA & The Posse Macola release, but seeing it first hand had the same effect as a shoot ‘em western flick but instead of being set in the wild west, it was the urban jungle. I remember renting this from one of those busted out local movie rental places and liking it so much, I never returned it. I just never rented there again and I think it went out of business a few months later (I wonder why). It’s been awhile since I’ve since watched it, but I remember being the horny little 8th or 9th grader that I was, I’d rewind the love scene with the sizzling latina that was Penn’s love interest in the movie. Mamacita bonita!
As far a soundtrack, it’s one of my favorites although he does have a couple weak links. Coming in at a mere ten tracks, the only two L.A. artists make an appearance on the soundtrack in Ice-T and 7A3. You will notice the strong ties to the Cold Chillin’ roster, with artists like Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, Kool G Rap and Roxanne Shante all appearing on the album. That had a lot to do with the fact that Warner Bros just started a relationship with Marley Marl’s and Fly Ty’s label, so they did the most they could to put their artists on the soundtrack.
Ice T – Colors
I’m trying to remember if this was my first exposure to Ice-T. It could quite possibly be, as I think it was later in that summer that I discovered a bootleg tape of “Rhyme Pays” at my local state fair. Any kid that was from the west and listened to hip hop knew the words to the song. Even my friends that weren’t into hip hop knew the words to “Colors”. To this day, it’s still one of my top 5 favorite Ice-T joints. With the crazy scratching, the “colors” chanting over the chorus and the ill bass line, it was a popular choice of the day.
Decadent Dub Team – Six Gun (44 Mix)
I always kinda dug the drums on this track, and just saw that this was remixed by none other than Dr. Dre himself (seriously can’t believe that I didn’t know that or forgot it). I always thought it was weird that this track showed up second on the soundtrack when it’s more of a last track kind of song. It usually got the skip treatment back in the day. And just to prove that everyone got some kind of networking account: http://www.myspace.com/decadentdubteam.
Salt N Pepa – Let The Rhythm Run
Back when this dropped, I was totally anti-female MCs and hadn’t yet realized the greatness that his Hurby Luv Bug, so this got the quick skip as well. I can appreciate it’s attempt now and it’s really not a bad song, but more than likely something that was left off the Salt N Pepa’s “Salt With a Deadly Pepa” album.
Big Daddy Kane – Raw
At the time this dropped, it was real close to the release of Kane’s debut album, I’m not sure which came first. This is thought of as the original version and the version on Kane’s album is the “remix”, although not much is different except for the tracks introduction. “Raw” is probably one of my top five all-time favorite hip hop songs, and it was this soundtrack that I first heard the track. The dub cassette I had got a lot of rewind on this part of it.
Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full (Seven Minutes of Madness – The Cold Cut Re-mix)
Amazingly enough, this track was my introduction to Eric B & Rakim as well. I wasn’t deep enough into hip hop in ’87 when their debut album by the same name dropped to know about them. If it wasn’t on Def Jam at that time or had some kind of ties (I know they were managed by Rush, but that doesn’t count), I probably didn’t hear it. The Soul Searchers drum break of course drew me into the track. Rakim’s complex lyrics for the time and his gruff delivery warmed me even further. The scratching at the end of the track was just the icing on the cake.
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Butcher Shop
This track would show up prior to being on their debut album, “Road To The Riches”, and was also the first time I heard of G Rap. “Butcher Shop” at one time was probably my favorite track on the soundtrack, with the scratching, G Rap killing it lyrically and the dope ass beat, I was loving this.
7A3 – Mad Mad World
7A3 will forever go down in the books as being DJ Muggs first group, which in some ways is an unfortunate occurrence since they were a fairly talented group. This song kinda got lost in the greatness of tracks such as “Butcher Shop”, “Raw”, and “Colors”, but I would give it a listen with it’s familiar horn sample.
Roxanne Shante – Go On Girl
Did I say I disliked female MCs back in the day? Yes, I did, and I did dislike them. Yet for some reason, this track never got skipped. I guess it was the beat that hooked me, but Shante was also evil on the mic.
MC Shan – A Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Waste
This might be bands for expulsion from the hip hop world, but I’ve NEVER been a MC Shan fan. I liked some of his singles, but for the most part, I never went out of my way to listen to a Shan track. This didn’t do much for me neither.
Rick James – Everywhere I Go (Colors)
I had no appreciation for anything not hip hop about the time I started listening to the Colors soundtrack. I didn’t appreciate stuff like Prince, Cameo (ok I did like “Word Up”) or James Brown and I didn’t appreciate Rick James. I never played this track, I would just rewind it and start over again. Listening to it later, I realize it’s a solid track that was worthy of my young ears back in those days.
CB4 (MCA, 1993)
1 Public Enemy – The 13th Message / Livin’ In A Zoo 7:24
2 Boogie Down Productions – Black Cop 2:59
3 MC Ren – May Day On The Front Line 4:01
4 Hurricane (2) – Stick ‘Em Up 2:58
5 Fu-Schnickens – Sneaking Up On Ya 3:24
6 Parental Advisory – Lifeline 4:38
7 P.M. Dawn – The Nocturnal Is In The House 4:19
8 Blackstreet – Baby Be Mine 5:53
9 Tracie Spencer – It’s Alright 3:46
10 CB4 – Sweat Of My Balls 3:10
11 CB4 – Straight Out Of Locash 3:10
12 CB4 – Rapper’s Delight 5:35
CB4 was a movie that you had to be into the hip hop culture to enjoy and to really get all the jokes to it. I remember going with some friends to the theater to watch it that were only casual hip hop listeners. They’d laugh and shit, but half the time I don’t think they really knew what they were laughing at. Chris Rock did fairly decent job at capturing the parody that was gangsta rap at the time. I wouldn’t call it a classic, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
The soundtrack for the movie had it’s strong points, with many established artists such as KRS, Public Enemy and MC Ren. I wouldn’t say there are some classic joints blessing the project, but some it contained some tracks that got a lot of play on my “Soundtracks” mixtape I had made around this time.
Public Enemy – Livin’ In a Zoo
This was around the time that P.E. started slipping some musically. It wasn’t that they had lost their edge, but the line up of the Bomb Squad that had made their first three albums so musically ground breaking, had changed and the sampling debate had killed some of their sound. This track sounds like something you would hear on their “Greatest Misses” album and the “Muse Sick-N-Hour Message” album. It was good, just not the Public Enemy that I had grown to love.
Boogie Down Productions – Black Cop
Interestingly enough, the song is credited as a Boogie Down Productions song on the soundtrack, but would later show up on KRS’s first solo album a few months later. Go figure. “Black Cop” is probably the best song on the soundtrack, with a sick Pal Joey beat (dude should have produced more hip hop) that defined what “boom bap” was.
MC Ren – May Day on The Frontline
One of the more unpopular opinions that I have is that MC Ren was just as good an MC as Cube and my favorite member of NWA. Ren didn’t get the solo shine that Cube or Dre or even Eazy got, but I still purchased his EP “Kizz My Black Azz”. “May Day On the Front Line”, appeared on the soundtrack first, but would later be on his “Shock of the Hour” LP. It’s a good if not an unspectacular track, a menacing beat and Ren just using his trademarked flow to deliver an acceptable track.
Hurricane feat The Beastie Boys - Stick ‘Em Up
This might have been Hurricane’s first solo track, after appearing as the Beasties DJ and a member of The Afros. This was during a time when the Beasties were darlings of the alternative scene. I always dug this track, if nothing else for the Beasties influence that is all over the track.
Fu-Schnikens - Sneakin’ Up On Ya
I was NEVER a Fu-Schnikens fan. I didn’t hate them or anything, but I didn’t buy any of their albums when the were released. They just weren’t my thing. I think that fact that they had Shaq with them, I saw it as kind of a gimmick so I stayed away. When I got the soundtrack, I was expecting this track to strictly fast forward material, but it quickly became my favorite song on the soundtrack. Of course the Diamond produced beat helped a lot, but even their lyrical performances got me hooked. Often I’d be at my night job as a food service aide at a hospital spitting Chip Fu’s verse. Yeah, I got some weird looks.
Parental Advisory – Lifeline
“Lifeline” was a track I always liked well enough, yet I never bothered looking much into the group, Parental Advisory. I’ve checked the mostly Organized Noise produced LP “Ghetto Street Funk,” since then, but I should have paid them more attention back then based on the strength of this track. As previously mentioned, the track was produced by Organized Noise, one of their first productions. I was a big fan of the early Dungeon Family/Organized Noise sound, and this is perfect reason why. The group kind of reminded of a southern Above The Law.
PM Dawn - The Nocturnal is in the House
I can’t possibly explain how much I hated PM Dawn around this time. After all, they weren’t real hip hop I reasoned. They were on some soft punk sissy bullshit. I was glad that KRS threw they punk asses of the stage (by the way, does anyone else find it somewhat humorous that both PM Dawn and KRS show up on the same soundtrack?). But in the same way I liked Father MC’s song “Pimp Or Die” on “Who’s The Man” soundtrack that BC covered already, I secretly liked “Nocturnal is in the House”. Listening to it now, I still like the shit….as much as it still pains me to say that.
Blackstreet – Baby Be Mine
I wasn’t much into R&B in those days, although looking back there was some quality R&B being played. I did like this song though. Blackstreet was one of the few R&B groups (with Tony Toni Tone) I would listen to in those days.
Tracie Spencer – It’s Alright
This got the fast forward treatment in the day, and I didn’t get past a minute this time around.
CB4 – Sweat Of My Balls, Straight Outta Locash, Rapper’s Delight
The last three tracks are credited to the fictitious group CB4, who (despite what wikipedia says) was Hi-C and Daddy-O on the the first two tracks, “Sweat Of My Balls”, and “Straight Outta Locash”. I always thought the combination of Daddy-O and Hi-C was a rather interesting combination that I doubt we would have ever seen any other way. “Sweat Of My Balls” was a favorite of my friends and I, one we would sing anytime we were throwing barbs at each other. “Rapper’s Delight” would also feature Kool Moe Dee, making it an even more odd lineup. All three songs are good, but more of a novelty than anything else.
Boyz N The Hood (Qwest, 1991)
1 Ice Cube – How To Survive In South Central 3:40
2 Tevin Campbell – Just Ask Me To 4:08
3 Yo-Yo – Mama Don’t Take No Mess 4:05
4 CMW – Growin’ Up In The Hood 4:13
5 Main Source – Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball (Remix) 4:02
6 Tony! Toni! Toné! – Me & You 4:11
7 Monie Love – Work It Out 4:15
8 Kam (2) – Every Single Weekend 4:37
9 Hi-Five – Too Young 4:35
10 2 Live Crew, The – Hangin’ Out 2:36
11 Too Short – It’s Your Life 4:47
12 Force One Network – Spirit (Does Anyone Care?) 4:19
13 Quincy Jones – Setembro 5:07
14 Stanley Clarke – Black On Black Crime 4:36
I’m sure a lot of people argue on what the best “hood” flic is, commonly Juice or Menace II Society will come up, but my money was always on Boyz N The Hood. Yes, it did have that after school special quality to it at certain times in the film. It could be a little preachy, but the acting was some top quality with a up and coming Cuba Gooding Jr, Laurence Fishburne and the show stealing Ice Cube. It’s one of the few movies that I ever saw twice in a movie theater, once with a couple of my fellow hip hop heads and a second time on a date with cute Hawaiian chick that was half freaked out that I would take her to a movie such as Boyz N The Hood. I still own it on DVD and tend to pop it in the DVD player every six months or so.
The soundtrack walked very close to being to R&Bish for me in my younger years, but the classic tracks on it more than made up for it. I would buy it on CD in 1991, which was rare for me, I usually stuck to tapes unless it was something really dope. Some reason I thought the soundtrack was important enough to cop on CD.
Ice Cube – How To Survive In South Central
Cube had released “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” about a year earlier and was huge in my book in those years. When I heard the track on the movie, I knew I had to buy the soundtrack, if nothing else, for that track alone. The song is like being on a tour bus through the bad streets of South Central, something which I was probably never going to experience. It’s also one of the earlier Sir Jinx productions, who I was already a fan of due to his work on Cube’s debut and WC & The Madd Circle al
bum. This song is nothing short of classic in my book and one of the best tracks to grace a soundtrack and never show up on an album.
Tevin Campbell – Just Ask Me To
Again, I was pretty much anti R&B at that age in ’91, but I would always play this song on my journey through the soundtrack. Tevin was just a kid back then, but he held his own with some memorable lines and of course the Al B Sure! production helped a lot as well. I was a sucka for some good New Jack Swing production, which is the vibe “Just Ask Me To” was on. Oh yeah, the fact that Chubb spit a dope rhyme during the bridge, helped a lot to get play from me….fourteen, G!
Yo-Yo – Mama Don’t Take No Mess
Even Yo-Yo didn’t get a pass at my dislike for most female MCs. I’d play this every once in awhile, if nothing else I liked the DJ Pooh beat. Yo-Yo does a fine job on the cut and probably should have gotten more attention from me back in the day.
Compton’s Most Wanted – Grown Up In The Hood
“Wake Your Punk Ass Up”, that line was a common one I would use all that summer and fall. I had purchased a used tape of “It’s a Compton Thang”, CMW’s debut album, but they were by no means my favorite. They damn near stole the album with “Grown Up In The Hood” and one could argue that it is the marque track on the album. It really marked CMW as one of the premier west coast groups.
Main Source - Friendly Game of Baseball (Remix)
Maybe my memory is slipping me, but I could swear the version that is on my CD is different than the one I downloaded to listen to while writing. My CDs are still in boxes after my move (2 months ago, I need to get them out), so I can’t verify if I’m just getting senile or not. The version I remember was dope, this version sucks.
Tony Toni Tone - Just Me & You
Maybe because I’ve seen the movie so many times and know when certain songs appear in the movie gives me a greater appreciation for certain songs such as this one. I like it, what else can I say?
Monie Love – Work It Out
I have said a couple times on this post that I disliked female MCs. Would you care to guess who was the first female I bought an album from? You guessed it, Monie Love. I guess I had a thing for “Monie In The Middle”, so I followed Mon’s career. I liked “Worked It Out” as well, she was somewhat different with her multiple symbol style. The beat was co-produced by none other than DJ Jazzy Jeff. I just learned that while writing this up.
Kam – Every Single Weekend
I liked Kam, but for some reason, I never bought any of his albums. This track was a solid track, backed by a DJ Pooh track which sounded heavy in my little Jetta I had back in those days.
High-Five – Too Young
Eh, the beat was cool on this track, but as much as I disliked female MCs, I probably disliked kid rappers (and singers) just as much. This got the fast forward.
2 Live Crew – Hangin’ Out
One of the few non sex only related songs 2 Live ever put out. I loved this track, if nothing else for the rumbling bass the joint possessed. I also made a pause tape mix using the intro, with Cube saying “Shut up bitch” from the movie. I would rap word for word when I had this track blasting in the Jetta, my only problem with it was it was too short.
Too Short – It’s Your Life
One of the few unoriginal songs (I guess the Main Source track was on their LP as well) that shows up on the soundtrack. The track was one of my favorites on the “Short Dog’s In The House” LP, but since it had been out over a year by the time it showed up on here, sometimes I would skip over it.
Force One Network – Spirit (Does Anybody Care?)
I skipped it then and I skipped it now….
Quincy Jones – Setembro
Ah yes, the part of the movie that Trey finally gets with Brandi. It’s a great song for that scene and maybe that’s why I’d play it. Sometimes, if I was in a certain mood, I’d just put on these last two songs and veg out to it. I could be somewhat open minded at times, but I never put much effort in investigating this type of music any deeper.
Stanley Clarke – Black On Black Crime
I loved the score for the film and I loved this music on the movie. It’s strong, passionate, sad, and moving all in the same sense. Also the fact that it contained lines from the movie made me like it some. I wasn’t familiar with Stanley Clarke at the time, but the name always stuck with me and is probably the reason why I own some of his earlier work on vinyl today.