Monday, February 28, 2005

Cheesy Movie with Some Good Songs Part 9 - Strictly Business

For the final chapter in this month's series on Soundtracks to Bad Movies, I thought I'd hit you with a little Uptown flavour (Andre Harrel's version, sorry Dipset fans). While this cheesy romantic comedy featuring a young Halle Berry and Tommy Davidson was light on the "laffs", it did provide a couple of quality tracks. Marley Marl provides LL with the forgettable title-track, Heavy D commits his usual crimes against good taste with "Make The People Sing", Nice and Smooth offer the classic "How To Flow" and LaQuan reminds us why people stopped using live instruments in hip-hop after 1983. On the R 'n B side, Stephanie Mills, Jeff Red and Jodeci do their thing for those of you who enjoy that shit (Mary J. Blige's "You Remind Me" is classic broad music though).

Leaders of the New School
bring their usual antics with another energetic performance (demonstrating that you can pay homage to Cold Crush without resorting to Jurrassic 5's yawn-inducing "look at us, we're old school" tactics), with the outstanding "Shining Star". Dope positive rap? Who knew? Grand Puba demonstrates why he left Brand Nubian with the Fonda Rae-based "Fat Rat". His vision of light-hearted verbal gymnastics set to classic, dancefloor friendly tracks was a long way from "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down". But he'll always be Steady Bootleggin's number one cross-eyed MC.

[tracks taken from the original cassette version, hiss included at no extra charge]

Leaders of the New School - "Shining Star" (Strictly Business Soundtrack, Uptown/MCA, 1991)

Grand Puba - "Fat Rat" (Strictly Business Soundtrack, Uptown/MCA, 1991)

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Documentary I've never seen with some good songs Part 8 - On The Ropes

This is another movie that I've never seen, which isn't really a big issue since we're not here to talk popcorn....this is an independant documentary about boxers in Brooklyn, called On The Ropes. The notable thing about this project is that Ray "Web" Davis (X-Ray from Monsta Island Czars) did the music with a guy called Theodore Sharpiro. Basically this means a bunch of M.I.C. members appear on the songs that feature vocals, with Megalon, Vulcha and KD (aka Kong) all hitting the booth with mixed results. The Metal-Faced Villain also passes through for a couple of brief appearences, over live tracks that sound like a mix between the Charlie Brown theme and an afternoon with the Fat Albert gang. Since Doom has become an underground superstar these days, I thought a few of you might enjoy these.

MF Doom & Scott Free - "New Beginning" (On The Ropes Soundtrack, Milan, 1999)

Vulcha/Kevrok/Rodan/MF Doom - "Anti-Gravity" (On The Ropes Soundtrack, Milan, 1999)

Buy MF Doom songs here....

MF Doom

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Bad Movie, Great Song Part 7 - The Fan

I guess Robert De Niro got to a point in his career where he though - "I've made some a bunch of great movies already - now it's time to get paid so I can afford to date some more supermodels", which is why he currently appears in things like Rocky and Bullwinkle. Back in 1996, he made a movie called The Fan, which was about an over-zealous baseball fan stalking his idol, who just happened to look a lot like Wesley Snipes. While it may initially seem like he was reprising his role of Rupert Pupkin from The King of Comedy, it's really just Single White Female with a jockstrap. Some consider it to be "the worst sports movie ever".

The soundtrack only contained a couple of rap cuts, but one of them happened to be "Unstoppable", which was one of Mic Geronimo's finest moments, due in no small part to an excellent Pete Rock beat (which sounds a lot better in his hands than it did on Kool G Rap's "Foul Cats"). You may remember Mic as Irv Gotti's old buddy, since he produced "Shit's Real" for Geronimo back when Ja Rule was still just another member of the Cash Money Click. Mic Geronimo dropped an album called The Natural which contained some great songs like "Men Vs Meny" with O.C. and Royal Flush, as well as "Masta IC" and a few other quality Buckwild-produced tracks. The other half of the album was really boring though, since Mic's monotonous, Nas-inspired delivery was a little too laid-back for it's own good, often blending into the music so effectively that the listener stopped paying attention to him. When he followed-up with Vendetta, he made several blatant attempts at radio crossover tunes with Puff Daddy and Jay-Z cameos, and some really cheesy samples. The only highlight was the inclusion of "Unstoppable" and a Tragedy verse.

Mic Geronimo - "Unstoppable" (The Fan Soundtrack, TVT, 1996)

To get Mic Geronimo's new exclusive new EP "I.P.O.D.", click below....

Mic Geronimo

Friday, February 18, 2005

Never Saw The Flick, But The Soundtrack Wins Part 6 -Soul In The Hole

Another jam-packed soundtrack, Soul In The Hole was more of a Loud-roster showcase than anything else, but nevertheless it managed to be consistantly enjoyable, especially since it was 100% hip-hop without any fruity punk-schmoove shit. As far as the movie? Never saw it. I can tell you that Organized Konfusion combine with hangers-on The Ill Rahlos for a nice Equinox era free-for-all called "Late Night Action", Mobb Deep contribute Hell On Earth reject "Rare Species" (but since at that stage in the game even their B-grade material was classic) and M.O.P.'s Bill and Fame mash 'em out with the self-produced downtown swinga "Ride". Other significant cuts included Big Pun's debut single "You Ain't A Killer"and (MIA former Jay-Z sidekick) Sauce Money's Premier-driven "Against The Grain", as well as good efforts from O.C., Cocoa Brovaz, Common and Xzibit. You need to get your hands on the whole album if you get the chance.

Trivia Bonus: Darc Mind's song is produced by GM Web D, who's responsible for Sugar Bear's late '80's classic "Don't Scandalize Mine"/"Ready To Penetrate". He now goes by the name of X-Ray, and holds down deejaying and production duties as part of the Monsta Island Czars. He also hosts X-Tacy Radio which offers a free download of the latest show.

Organized Konfusion - "Late Night Action" (Soul In The Hole Soundtrack, Loud, 1995)

Mobb Deep - "Rare Species (Modus Operandi)" (Soul In The Hole Soundtrack, Loud, 1995)

M.O.P. - "Ride" (Soul In The Hole Soundtrack, Loud, 1995)

For more Mobb Deep classics....

Mobb Deep & Kool G. Rap

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

One Good Song From The Horrible Soundtrack To A Cheesy Movie, Part 5 - Class Act

Remember when Kid 'N Play were called Fresh Force? Me neither. I have to admit they had a few good songs on their first album (like that joint with the Talking Heads loop), and as they got worse and worse at making music it they focused their efforts in starring in three installments of House Party (peace to Robin Harris), and when that franchise ran out of steam they flipped it into Class Act, which saw your man Kid (the class geek) have his school records mixed-up with Play (the "tough guy") with "hilarious" results (or at least that was the plan). Clearly this was just House Party all over again, except with less dancing. Apparently, a few years later Kid decided that rap music was evil and went on some talk shows or some shit. I'm sure his mother was real proud.

But the one reedeeming feature of this whole band-wagon was a dope Lord Finesse/Showbiz track called "Set It Off Troop", which sits on the soundtrack wedged in between some weak R'n B trash. "Oh, I already got that song on the Crates To The Files bootleg". "Yeah but that was a different version, this one has cuts on the chorus". Basically Finesse was on fire like STET (or Lloyd Banks if you're under 30) in '92, and he kicks some great lines about how he doesn't dance like all these other happy rappers, which is basically a direct diss at Kid 'N Play. I guess the Funkyman was worried that he might look soft being on the soundtrack to a cheesy "raploitation" flick.

Lord Finesse - "Set It Off Troop"(Class Act Soundtrack, Giant, 1992)

For more Lord Finesse classics...

Lord Finesse & Big L

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Decent Movie, Better Soundtrack Part 4 - New Jersey Drive

This is another flick which I can't remember too clearly, but I can recall it being better than I had expected but still far from classic. Basically some guys steal a bunch of cars in Brick City, have a few laughs and then it all goes downhill. What's worth noting about this project is that the Tommy Boy soundtrack was so extensive that they had to release two albums worth of songs (most of which weren't even heard in the movie). Part one had some alright stuff but the second volume contained the real gems.

"You Won't Go Far" saw the original Fudge Pudge squad back in action as OK and O.C. stick to the script while adding their signature super-lyrical twist to proceedings, all set to a typically gloomy, snare-cracking backdrop. While not much was heard from the E. Bros following their debut here, Roc Raida's addictive Les McCann piano-driven instrumental steals the show and overshadows any lyrical short-comings on "Funky Piano". Jeru and Premier contribute the superior "Invasion", but since it turned up on the Wrath of the Math album I won't bother featuring it here. As far as Black Moon & Smif 'N Wessun's "Headz Ain't Ready", I prefer the 12" remix to the version included here but it's still some quality Bootcamp product.

O.C. & Organized Konfusion - "You Won't Go Far"(New Jersey Drive Soundtrack - Volume 2, Tommy Boy, 1995)

E. Bros - "Funky Piano" (New Jersey Drive Soundtrack - Volume 2, Tommy Boy, 1995)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Horrible Movies with Not Quite As Bad Soundtracks Part 3 - Street Fighter.

Although it's becoming a popular trend in Hollywood these days, celluloid versions of coin-guzzling video games have tended to be totally appaling, as the Mario Brothers movie can attest. Considering that Street Fighter was ruling the arcades in the early nineties with an 2-dimensional iron fist, it was only a matter of time until somebody called Jean-Claude Van Damme to throw on a muscle shirt and beat-up some guys in cheesy outfits. For some reason, one of the pony-tailed, Evian-sipping studio execs decided that this project required a rap soundtrack, and a selection of seasoned vets and new schoolers were assembled for the album.

Groups like the Pharcyde, Anotha Level and the B.U.M.S. contribute some luke-warm efforts, demonstrating just how tepid much of the LA new school movement really was, while Craig Mack and LL bring some really boring shit to prove that New York can make shitty music as well as well as anybody (although Cool J's Easy Moe Bee beat wins), and the less said about cuts from Ice Cube and Public Enemy (sorry, I mean Chuck D introducing The Wreck League), the better.

On the upside, Ras Kass delivers an incredible verse between Ahmed's suprisingly capable opener (he was that one-hit wonder who made "Back In The Days" and had a print ad which read "This boy from the hood ain't packin'. You Got A Problem WIth That?" or something corny like that) and Saafir's love-him-or-really-really-really-hate-him broken android vocal technique. King Tech's use of "Harlem Buck Strut" doesn't hurt the cause either. Nas imagines "no gun, no knife, it's a one on one so we got's to fight", however his narritive lacks direction and the sappy chorus crooning undermine any potential the song may have had. But since it's 1994 Nas material, his flow alone makes it worth a listen (once, anyway).

As a bonus, I've included a low-fi, 128kps rip of one of the worst songs ever - Hammer and "Neon" Dion Sanders catching "wreck" in the booth with "Straight To My Feet"! This track will rock any house party, kegger, mixer or prom....(OK, maybe not but I have a newfound respect for Hammer after I read that MC Serch interview where he talks about how he almost had 3rd Bass killed when they went to LA).

Ahmed, Ras Kass and Saafir - "Come Widdit" (Street Fighter Soundtrack, Virgin/Priority, 1994)

Nas - "One On One" (Street Fighter Soundtrack, Virgin/Priority, 1994) [FIXED]

Hammer & Dion Sanders - "Straight To My Feet" (Street Fighter Soundtrack, Virgin/Priority, 1994)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Great Soundtracks To Awful Movies Part 2 - High School High

The completely forgettable High School High, starring Jon Lovitz as a goofy principal, has left such a lasting impression that I can't even remember the plot, let alone the gags. There may have been a couple of funny moments, but I can recall being bored shitless for most of it. The album was far more satisfying, as it featured about a million different groups - everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Quad City DJ's. The standout is the genius combination of Large Professor and Pete Rock, who share mic and production duties on the incredible "Rap World", with a little help from Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "In The World". I could listen to this shit all fuckin' day. Real Live deliver a song that sums up their whole album - great beats, weak raps (sorry Larry-O, you just weren't cutting it), but any track that uses Barry White's "Strange Games and Things" (aka EPMD's "Manslaughter") wins. The rest of the soundtrack was a mixed bag of throw-away's from Tribe and KRS, decent contributions from The Artifacts, Sadat X & Grand Puba, De La Soul and Inspektah Deck and some trash R&B.

Large Professor & Pete Rock- "The Rap World" (High School High Soundtrack, Big Beat, 1996)

Real Live - "Get Down For Mine" (High School High Soundtrack, Big Beat, 1996)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Great Soundtracks To Awful Movies Part 1 - Trespass

While Juice, Menace II Society and Boyz-N-The-Hood were all enjoyable flicks with quality, all-star hip-hop soundtracks in tow, many killer tracks have been wasted on pitiful celluloid trash. Case in point - this Ice-T/Ice Cube vehicle (Iceploitation?) which is only memorable for the fact that it had it's original title changed from Looters after some truck driver got hit in the head with a brick in LA (aka the Rodney King verdict uprising/riiiot/jump-off).

It's other redeeming feature is a soundtrack containing the greatest Lord Finesse track ever made. "You Know What I'm About" also marked the Funkyman hitting his straps on the beat tip, as he laced up that Scooby Doo shit perfectly (grab his Crates To The Files album for the original T-Ray version featuring Big L, another victim of label red tape). This song is the perfect backdrop to bust someone in the head with a wine bottle or some other type of enjoyable anti-social activity.

WC and The MADD Circle (featuring your man Coolio) also deliver an outstanding non-LP banger with "Quick Way Out", which reminds me of how good LA rap was when they still looped-up Zzap records instead of fucking with corny keyboards. Other quality efforts were Black Sheep's "On The Wall", Gangstarr's "Gotta Get Over" and Donald D's "I'm Gonna Smoke Him".

Lord Finesse - "You Know What I'm About" (Trespass Soundtrack, Sire, 1992)

WC & The MADD Circle - "Quick Way Out" (Trespass Soundtrack, Sire, 1992)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

139 & Lennox = The Dangerzone

The topic of the tracks removed from the retail version of Lifestyles Ov Da Poor & Dangerous came up here we go.

"School Days" is the classic tale of coming up that most people used to throw on their album when they ran out of decent ideas, but L adds his own unique twist to make it this cut stand out. As far as production honors - I'm guessing Finesse did it.
"Times Is Hard On The Boulevard" is Big L's tribute to robbery experts, set to a Rakim hook and a dope (Buckwild / Showbiz?) beat.
Another common topic is the old reliable "burnt-by-the-neighbourhood-skeezer" story, which was played-out like 8-ball jackets at the time but still entertaining. But it's not suprising they left "Clinic (Should Have Wore A Rubber)" off the final version of the album (also a Lord Finesse contribution I assume).
Finally, one of L's last performances in Amsterdam showcases what I believe to be the original lyrics to "Devil's Son", which he changed for the promo-only 12" version that dropped in '93.

Most of you already have these, but just in case.....

Big L - "School Days" (Unreleased, 1994).

Big L - "Clinic (Should Have Wore A Rubber)" (Unreleased, 1994).

Big L - "Times Is Hard On The Boulevard" (Unreleased, 1994).

Big L - "Devil's Son" (Live In Amsterdam)