Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – The Fast and The Furious

Year of Release: 2001

Record Label: Murder Inc Records/Def Jam Recordings/Universal Music Group

It is amazing how far the Fast & Furious franchise has gone as it has existed for nearly two decades. Nobody I know, including myself, would have ever thought that it would have gotten to eight films as of this year. Not to mention that it had evolved from a story that was grounded in reality, with a few over-the-top elements, to a big movie franchise with even more over-the-top elements.

Each film had a soundtrack album to go with it. I will talk about the one that started it all, the soundtrack to The Fast and The Furious.

The one that I have always wondered about this album is why Ja Rule was featured on the cover. He didn’t have that big of a role in the film, despite having been promoted in the trailers way back in the day. It almost seemed like his presence in the film was made to plug the soundtrack. I will also point out that only a few songs from this compilation were actually in the film itself. I still remember actually seeing a trailer on TV back in 2001 that even promoted the soundtrack artists. It should also be noted that on Amazon back in those days, many consumers rated this so low because they were expecting a bunch of techno and house music that was in the movie. First off, they should have read the back cover, and second, they also should have looked at the list of artists on the front cover. Of course being the hip-hop head that I am, I was right at home with this album.

I had theorized that one reason that Ja Rule’s face was on the cover of this album was because he actually appeared in five songs on this album. But make no mistake about this, a few of those songs were previously released, but the majority of those songs actually appeared in the film. If you remember seeing the trailers or the TV spots from back in the day (You can always watch them on YouTube if not), one song that was used in the promotion was “Furious” from Ja Rule, Vita, and 0-1. Actually, the song was originally called “Fuck You” on the Rule 3:36 album, but to be fair, the beat actually gets you revved up and goes with the tone of the film itself, while Vita provided a good portion for the chorus and 0-1 actually did a good job in his verse. One thing that I must note is that a clean version of this exists with some lyrics changed a bit. I can’t find a video to show it, but it is heard in the credits of the film and I believe that the video was included as an extra on the DVD for the film.

The rest of the songs from Ja had on this album were decent. I liked the “Good Life Remix” with Faith Evans, along with Caddillac Tah and Vita. “Life Ain’t a Game” had a good beat from Damizza. I also kind liked the collaboration with Tank on “Race Against Time, Part 2.” It seemed that it was more Tank’s song here as he sang more verses whereas Ja only provided one verse. Of course, it’s not unheard of as many years later the roles switched between the two parts of “Love The Way You Lie” from Eminem and Rihanna as the first one appeared on Em’s album and the second one appeared on Rihanna’s album. However, I often wondered why the remix of “Put It on Me” appeared on here. My only guess is that because it got more radio airplay compared to the album version from Rule 3:36 and this version probably needed to get released on an album rather than just as a single. I can’t complain because I have always liked this version.

Regarding whether the rest of the Inc had a part in this album, there were only a few songs from some artists from that label as the rest were from people who weren’t on the label. One of my other favorite songs was “Pov City Anthem” from Caddillac Tah. I actually remembered seeing the video on TV back in the day and thinking it was a good song. It makes me wonder why for many years I skipped “The Prayer” from Black Child as that one was actually a good track on this album. Meanwhile, regarding other songs from Murder Inc members, the other two was a hit and miss. The hit would probably Ashanti’s “When a Man Does Wrong.” While it was out of place for an album like this and I really don’t remember hearing it in the film (Along with other tracks on here), it is still worth a listen. However, I can’t really say much about Vita and Ashanti’s cover of the Madonna song, “Justify My Love.” To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know that there was a video for this song until now.

I can see that the video was similar to the video of the original. I can give credit where it’s due, but it is still kind of odd to listen to.

As for the rest of the album, a lot of them were decent, if good, but in a lot of ways I questioned why they were put in. Now I liked “Hustlin” from Fat Joe and Armageddon, as well as “Suicide” from Scarface, but I saw no reason for “Freestyle” from Boo & Gotti. I will listen to it, but it just seems out of place like it could have been put on a mixtape, with the uses of the beats from two Dr. Dre songs, “The Watcher” and “Fuck You.” Also, the inclusion of the rap version of “Rollin'” from Limp Bizkit was probably added in to go with the fact that it was a hip-hop compilation. A few seconds of the original version were heard in the film, but I guess Def Jam needed the hip-hop song to fit on here. I can’t complain as I was never a big fan of Limp Bizkit, not even when they were popular when I was in junior high (Although there are a FEW songs that I like of theirs).

It may seem that what was written in the previous paragraph that I didn’t think much of this album. Not the case. In fact, I actually like this album, but in hindsight, I can kind of agree with some people when they complained about how a lot of songs on here weren’t in the movie. As a hip-hop fan, this album is still a good one in my eyes, but at the same time it just made me wonder if Irv Gotti had a lot of creative control over this album and just included some other songs just because. I guess that explains why Universal and Island Records put out “More Music from The Fast and The Furious” much later on, which included some of the techno songs, but even I looked online and much of the songs on there weren’t in the movie, either. Not to mention that a lot of complaints surrounding that album had to do with it being copyright-protected and how it couldn’t be played on certain players. In many ways I am glad that I didn’t actually buy the CD of that. Regarding this album, one song that would have been great to be included was “Say Ah” from Shawnna, but it wasn’t. It’s such a shame because I liked what I heard. I can understand why “Area Codes” wasn’t in it as that was used for the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack, which came out that same year.

Overall, I recommend this album mainly if you are just looking for a decent rap compilation, not a soundtrack to the film itself.

3.5/5

NEXT UP: 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Furious
  2. Pov City Anthem
  3. The Prayer
  4. Hustlin’
  5. Good Life Remix
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Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Record Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Doggystyle Records/Interscope Records

When The Wash came to theaters, there was no denying that with who the two lead actors in that film were that there would be a soundtrack album to go with it. As I had noted in my review for that film, there was some heavy plugging for the soundtrack. But just how good was the soundtrack? Well, let’s see about that.

There was a time when you would see that if a recording artist had a part in a movie, whether the person was playing a character role or appearing as him or herself, there was a good chance that the artist would be featured on the soundtrack. In the case for this film, there is a lot of influence from both Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on this album, with Aftermath and Doggystyle respectively having their labels imprinted on the artwork for the cover and disc.

Both Dre and Snoop had a couple of tracks on this album, “On The Blvd” and the titular track called, well, “The Wash.” Not to mention that they were the first and last tracks on the album, respectively. Both tracks have their merits, with Kokane doing his bit on the chorus of “On The Blvd” and the beat definitely has the right feel when you would go out cruising, especially in a low-rider and hydraulics bumping in the process. However, “The Wash” stands out more in comparison. This song felt like an unofficial sequel to “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” from “The Chronic.” There were some parts of the beat that were similar to that song, as well as the mixing of other parts of Leon Haywood’s “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You,” which was also sampled in “Nuthin’ But A G Thang.”

Those songs weren’t the only contribution that Dre had on this album. While he had some influence on the production of some other tracks, he had heavy influence on a couple of that songs that featured then-newcomer Knoc-Turn’al. “Bad Intentions,” which also featured Dre as a rapper, had an awesome beat with a good flute sample to go with it. Also, Knoc-Turn’al provided some good lyrics to go with it. However, “Str8 West Coast,” the other song with Knoc-Turn’al on there, showed more of what he had to offer as a rapper, with a good beat to go with it, too.

As far as the other tracks go, it’s sad to say that so few actually stood out in comparison to the aforementioned songs. While the songs like “Blow My Buzz” from D12 and “Bubba Talk” from Bubba Sparxxx are decent, they were already out from their respective albums that were released the same year. They were played in the movie, yes, so maybe that may have given them a pass. The same could kind of be said about “Holla” from Busta Rhymes, as that was also on “Genesis,” but that album didn’t get released until a month after this one. On the other hand, Xzibit had a standout track in “Get Fucked Up With Me.” It felt like he went back to his roots with the Likwit Crew with this one. It is definitely a good song to drink and/or smoke to.

Then you also had the original tracks from the rest of the artists on this album. Now I can’t complain too much about all of them, because some of them had their own qualities to them. For example, longtime DPG affiliate, Soopafly, did a decent job in “Gotta Get Dis Money, but the chorus gets annoying fast. Bilal had a good song on there, too. I remember when he had quite a presence during those days. Then you had some of the no-names on here. Out of all of the less-than-well-known artists, there were only a couple of tracks that stood out. One was the R&B track, “Everytime” from Toi, or I should say LaToiya Williams. She has a very soulful voice and the song can really get you in the mood for some alone time with your S.O., and also a good sample from J. Dilla’s beat to Slum Village’s “Get Dis Money.” The other is “Riding High” from Daks and R.C. Daks had some good rhymes to go with the beat by Focus. The one track that I kind of put in the middle is “Benefit of the Doubt” from then-Aftermath singer, Truth Hurts, along with rapper Shaunta (Not to be confused with Shawnna from DTP). Truth Hurts didn’t do a bad job on the song as she sang well, and Shaunta did fine on her part, but the beat felt a bit out of place. It felt like something you would hear at a Baptist church on Sunday with the organ sample. I was not big on the rest, though. “Don’t Talk Shit” from Ox had a good beat, but the rapper sounded like he tried too to emulate Busta Rhymes. While “No”from Joe Beast got old fast, but the beat was also nice. Then you had “My High” from R&B singer, Yero, who is not a bad singer, but the whole song sounded too much like something Musiq Soulchild would have done back then. Shaunta sounded too much like she tried to emulate Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown with her song, “Good Lovin’.” I don’t mind dirty rap, but she tried a little too hard with this one.

I remember that I had gotten this album as a Christmas present way back when. Now I don’t mind listening to it, but it definitely has not held up over time. The odd thing about this album is that the standout songs on here were from the more known artists. The rest had more to be desired. It was an average album in hindsight.

3/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. The Wash
  2. Bad Intentions
  3. On The Boulevard
  4. Str8 West Coast
  5. Everytime
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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – How High

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Jersey Films/Native Pictures

When I wrote my review of The Wash, at the end of it I had noted about a much funnier movie that came out a month after that one, theatrically, I mean, I actually meant that it was indeed a funnier movie. The funny thing about these two movies is that they came out around the same time, with The Wash having come to theaters in November of 2001, while How High, the movie that this review is about, was released in theaters in December of that same year. So basically they both came out at roughly the end of that year.

A little personal history note, I remember having gone to see How High in theaters with my uncle. I was 15 at the time and being that I was already a big hip-hop head, I figured why not see this considering how I thought the movie looked funny and that I wanted to see Method Man and Redman on the big screen. I also remember being on my winter break at the time, not to mention it was also a few days before Christmas when I saw it.

One thing that will be said is that this film was a riot all the way through, in fact, in comparison to The Wash, it was not only funnier, but it also has a much different tone, which actually worked in this film.

There really isn’t much of a story in this film. It’s pretty basic, really. The story is about Silas (Method Man), a marijuana grower, and Jamal, a stoner, getting into Harvard and changing the Ivy League institution around and trying to get an education, but odds are against them in uptight Dean Cain (I wonder if that was intentional by the writers), played by Obba Babatunde. How they got there was through a spiritual source, if you know what I mean. Silas’s friend, Ivory died earlier on in the film, but because Silas had put his ashes into the soil of a cannabis plant, once he and Jamal smoked the Ivory weed, his ghost appears and helps them get through school. Of course, there is a romantic subplot as Silas becomes enamored with Lauren, played by Lark Voorhies (aka Lisa from Saved By The Bell), who is the girlfriend of secondary antagonist, Bart (Chris Elwood), the typical rich guy who looks down on Silas and Jamal.

Apart from the plot summary, this film is a straight-up stoner comedy that is similar to old Cheech & Chong films, as well as another stoner comedy cult favorite, Half-Baked. The title of the film is also named after the hit song of the same name from the two lead actors. Also, the tone of the film felt like a lowbrow comedy with very little to no ounce of seriousness in it. One part in the film that in another film would be a little more serious didn’t even take out anything humorous.

Also, unlike The Wash, Method Man and Redman had a lot more comedic chemistry than Dre and Snoop did. The thing about this film is that Meth seemed like the closest to being the straight man of the duo while Redman was more of the comedic sidekick. However, Meth had shown some comedic talent in some scenes. Even a few other supporting characters were also funny, like the character of Tuan. He had some excellent comedic timing in his lines. Also, Spalding Gray (RIP) had a hilarious scene as the Black History professor. Check out this scene below:

Also, being that this is a stoner movie, a lot of the references to weed were clever. While there were scenes of the two lead characters smoking and passing blunts and bongs, one of the weed references that was clever was the name of the exam that is needed to get into a good school. It was called “Testing for Higher Credentials.” Put the three first letters of those words together. Also, I noticed one character that wore a hoodie that said “Ivy League” on it and it had a cannabis leaf on it. I would wear a hoodie like that.

I also have to say that Lark Voorhies did a good job in her role as the love interest for Method Man’s character. I don’t think I have seen her in too many films that were given theatrical releases, yet this was one of them. The only other one I can think of is How To Be A Player, but she didn’t have a lot of screen-time in that film. It is a shame of what she has been through over the years and it doesn’t help that people will always see her as Lisa from Saved By The Bell. Plus, she did provide some eye candy in the film. In fact there were a lot of attractive women in this film, including the ever-so-lovely Essence Atkins.

Also, there was a brief cameo from Cypress Hill, who also performed in this film.

On the DVD of this film, there is an audio commentary track from both Method Man and Redman. It was funny to hear these two talk about the film and about certain scenes. Also, it seemed like Method Man was stoned at the start of the commentary. Maybe he actually was. It sure seemed like it. However, as time progressed, the duo really touched on a lot of things about the film. One of the parts that stood out was when Meth talked about Lark Voorhies’s performance, like how she made him think that she actually liked him. Also, there was a part where Meth talked about how he admits that he and Redman aren’t that great of actors but they did what they could in the film, given what they worked with.

How High is definitely a good example of a silly stoner movie done right. Now I am not surprised that this was given some negative reviews at the time of its release. It is really not a movie for everyone. This movie is basically on the same level as Half-Baked in that it had similar humor, not just the fact that there was a lot pot-smoking in the movie. Both films had a lot of crazy shit going on. I know I had mentioned The Wash at the start of this review, but when comparing those two films, How High wins this one. Now I don’t mind The Wash, even though I do believe it was not a good film, this film got a lot more laughs out of me. Both Meth and Redman had a lot of chemistry on-screen and there were plenty of funny moments even from some of the supporting cast, including one of the antagonists of the film. I also forgot to mention that Anna Maria Horsford was in this film as Jamal’s mother, which is funny considering how a few years after she played Meth’s mother on Method & Red (Note to self: Must get back to writing Method & Red episode reviews). Overall, in a nutshell, this was a hilarious movie.

Recommended, especially to hip-hop fans and those who also like to toke.

NEXT UP: The soundtracks to The Wash and How High, but I also have some other ideas in mind.

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Lithium Entertainment Group

When I first thought about reviewing “rap movies,” as I like to call them, I had initially thought about mostly doing reviews on these low-budget, straight-to-video releases that had a good amount of rappers in the cast, or at least ones that have a few in starring roles. A couple of examples that I did were Thicker Than Water and Hot Boyz, one movie that I fell out of love with yet still get a bit nostalgic over. The other being a film that I would rather use as a torture technique to punish someone who wronged me. However, I had also thought about the films that starred rappers that still managed to make it to theaters. Of course I had done a couple already that were given theatrical releases, Bones and Half Past Dead.

What is funny about all of this is that there are a lot of movies that have rappers in them, yet I am unsure on which ones to do and what not to do. Of course, at the moment I have a few in mind that I want to do, at least for the time being. One of those films is 2001’s The Wash.

This film was basically a starring vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. These two have a lot of chemistry when it comes to music. Hell, those two had collaborated a lot dating back to their days with Death Row. But the question is do they also have that kind of chemistry on screen? Well, that is REALLY good question.

Both men in their roles feel like they are playing themselves. Also, Dre’s character, Sean, is basically the straight man to Snoop’s Dee Loc, who is the wisecracker. In some ways it feels like when Ice Cube played Craig to Chris Tucker’s Smokey in the first Friday film. However, those two had amazing chemistry in that film. In this film, that comedic chemistry is lost on Dre and Snoop, despite having worked well together in music.

I have to also note that Dre and Snoop also have production credits in this film, among a few other people. Which I am like “Huh?” I can only imagine that only so many people can help the production of this film. But where the main thing lies is in the writer/director, DJ Pooh (For those who don’t know, his name is actually Mark Jordan). Of course, this film is not DJ Pooh’s first film credit. He had done some of the writing in Friday (And also played a character in that film) and also had written and directed 3 Strikes, a film that I also must revisit. Not to mention he also had a role in this film (More on this later).

Regarding the film’s story and writing is another part that shows how flawed this film is. In a nutshell this movie is about how Sean got fired from a job and ends up getting a job at, well, The Wash, which is the name of a car wash that has the employees washing cars for customers. So it isn’t one of those car washes where people can drive into and the car gets clean by the machinery. Nor is it a car wash where people can do it on their own with the use of hoses and brushes. It seems like a then-modern-day spin on the 1976 cult classic, Car Wash, but with more of a hip-hop/gangsta twist and no Rose Royce soundtrack to back it but rather rap tracks from Snoop and Dre, along with other hip-hop and R&B artists from Snoop’s label and Dre’s label. However, it seemed to have told three different stories in one film (along with a few subplots), which was one of the film’s problems. It even noted the different plot points on the back of the DVD case.

In the film, part of the plot had Sean, Dre’s character, becoming assistant manager to Mr. Washington (George Wallace), who was also called “Mr. Wash” as a nickname. Being that Sean tried to be an honest and responsible employee, he had gotten on the case of Dee Loc, Snoop’s character, for dealing and smoking weed while on the job and slacking. Of course, this rubbed Dee Loc the wrong way enough that it set up some conflict between the two. I must add that those two started off as friends at the beginning of the film who were also roommates. But then later on another subplot takes over the story which showed how flawed the writing was. The other plot of the film involved a kidnapping by Slim, played by DJ Pooh, who was the film’s antagonist, but he didn’t even show up until much later into the film. It was almost the storyline involving him was shoehorned in.

There were some subplots that seemed rather confusing and some that just finished at the snap of a finger. One example for the latter is a romantic subplot involving Sean and a female customer who he hit on at the car wash under the guise of an insurance salesman, when he happened to have stolen a customer’s jacket to hide that he worked at the car wash. Then of course that subplot was dropped not too long after it was revealed that he lied to her. That subplot was not needed at all and it would not have made a difference if it were out of the movie completely. On the plus side, she was never seen again, so there was no predictable part with her coming back and trying to give their whole thing another chance. As for another subplot, I totally wondered what the deal was with Eminem’s role in the film. He played a character who was fired from the car wash, but all he did was just call Mr. Wash and just threaten him. This was before 8 Mile, by the way, and it seemed like he was doing his Slim Shady persona when doing this film. Although I will say that he got some laughs out of me during his appearances.

One thing that annoyed me is that there was a lot of heavy plugging for the film’s soundtrack and also actually saying that the artists who did some songs were from Dre and Snoop themselves, the film’s lead actors. Okay, I get that they played characters, but it just seems odd how even the actors who played the characters exist in this universe as rappers. I don’t recall the Friday movies making reference to Ice Cube albums or ads with Craig present. In one scene, Tray Deee, one of Tha Eastsidaz and also one of Snoop’s boys from the DPG, was even referred to by his stage name and was acting as a character in this film. So he was basically playing himself and hanging out with a few moronic gangbangers? I didn’t understand it either.

Another thing about the soundtrack, and this is a minor spoiler here, is that in the credits, the video of “Bad Intentions” from Dre and Knoc-Turn’al was shown. It was an uncensored version, by the way, and the actual censored version was an extra on the DVD.

There were also some cameos by Ludacris, Pauly Shore, Shaquille O’Neal, and Xzibit. Also, one of the female characters was played by Truth Hurts, a singer who was on Dre’s label, Aftermath, at the time, but was credited by her real name, Shari Watson. One small note, but there was an appearance by Shawn “Solo” Fonteno, who is best known for playing Franklin Clinton in Grand Theft Auto V. He played Slim’s right-hand man. I also must add that DJ Pooh was the DJ for the West Coast Classics station in GTA V as well. This movie came out 12 years before that game did, but I just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway, this is not a good film, but I don’t hate it. I remember people had told me that it was not good when it came out, especially because I wanted to see it in theaters. According to some sources, it didn’t do well. It was shot on a $7 million budget but only made $10 million in the box office. I wonder if that was domestically. The first time I watched it was when I rented it when it came out on DVD. I had bought the DVD for this film much later and I had recently found it after having lost it. This film is more or less a time-waster or a movie that you can have on as background noise while doing other tasks. It is not a bad way to spend a boring Saturday or Sunday or any other day-off for that matter when you have nothing to do. You can do better but you can do a lot worse, too. I think it is mostly “meh,” if bad in some areas, but then again, a much funnier movie came out a month after this that starred rappers, which I will cover soon.

NEXT UP: HOW HIGH.

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Compilation Review – Irv Gotti Presents: The Remixes

Year of Release: 2002

Label: Murder Inc Records/Murda Management

Here I am in my final review of the Murder Inc compilations. Okay, technically that is not true as I have the soundtrack to The Fast and The Furious to do, but I will do that for my Fast & Furious soundtrack marathon special when the eighth film comes out. But other than that, I had devoted this month to reviewing the compilations from The Inc. I may do some other stuff in the future like maybe try to review Ja Rule’s albums, maybe Ashanti’s albums and Lloyd’s albums as I am not opposed to doing reviews of R&B albums for this site. I also am considering finding a way to listen to the unreleased albums of Vita and Charli Baltimore, or at least some unreleased material that they put out. Until then, I am closing off this special with “Irv Gotti Presents: The Remixes.”

This album was released four months after “Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc,” which I can say that at the time the label was on fire (Until 50 Cent started making it a trend to hate on the label). While the second Murder Inc compilation was done to showcase what more the label had to offer during that time, this compilation was released to showcase, well, remixes, at least for the most part.

You would know if a song is a remix because on the back of the case it says “Remix,” but not all of the songs are remixes. Some of them are original tracks that feature some of the label’s talent, and I suppose that Gotti wanted to release them to help market them. Or maybe they didn’t make the cut for the previous compilation.

I first must talk about the remixes to Ashanti’s hit songs from that time. The main thing that I had noticed is that there are TWO remixes to “Baby,” one of which had Scarface and the other had Crooked I. The version with Scarface was similar to the original version and he did a couple of verses that went well with the song. I have a feeling that Face’s contribution to the song was probably because “Baby” had the exact same beat as his song called “Mary Jane” from his album, “Untouchable.” As for the version with Crooked I, he had a couple of verses, too, but there were some parts that I felt were a bit out of place when he rapped. No disrespect for Crooked I, but I didn’t exactly think much of that version. He had decent rhymes and is a good rapper, but his bit seemed out of place when he rapped about thuggin’ and stuff. Scarface, on the other hand, had some deep rhymes in that version. If anything, I think the Scarface version is better.

As for the “Happy” remix, while the original sampled the Gap Band’s “Outstanding” to some degree, this version had lifted the beat completely and it felt like a cover to that song. Ashanti even paid homage to that song in some parts, while Charli Baltimore, D.O. Cannon, and Young Merc added the raps to the song.

If you want to talk about a good remix on here, look no further than the remix to “The Pledge.” While Ashanti sang the chorus this song and the beat was the same, it felt like a different song from the original as there was more emphasis on Nas and Ja Rule rapping on this song. One thing that I noticed is that Ja took a few shots at DMX in this song (As they were beefing during that time) and he sort of bit 2Pac in some areas (Let’s not get into the closing parts of the song or the whole thing that escalated in his beef with 50 Cent), he did a good job in this song. Nas also did a good job in his part.

I could only think of one other remix to a song that was worth noting. The remix to “O.G.” from Black Child and Caddillac Tah actually improved on the original. However, the remix to “No One Does It Better” did not include Charli Baltimore at all as she was in the original. I didn’t mind it, but there could have been one verse from her when it was mainly Ja, Tah, and Black Child on it.

The rest of the album were original tracks that I wondered why they were there in the first place. One song in particular was “Me and My Boyfriend” from Toni Braxton, which Irv Gotti had produced. Now I don’t think it’s a bad song. Toni’s vocals are good as always she always impresses with her singing, but this song was more or less a knock-off or cover of 2Pac’s “Me and My Girlfriend,” but then again you also had “03 Bonnie and Clyde” from Jay-Z and Beyonce that came out around the same time. The rest of the original tracks felt like filler, with the exception of “Come-N-Go,” which was a standout.

For some reason, the album also included “Rainy Dayz” from Mary J. Blige and Ja Rule, and also “Unfoolish” from Ashanti and The Notorious B.I.G. I find this pointless considering how “Unfoolish” was already on Ashanti’s self-titled album and “Rainy Dayz” was on the 2002 re-release of “No More Drama.” In some ways I could understand the latter being on here, but in that case, there could have also been other remixes added to here like “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny,” both of which had Jennifer Lopez. I am aware that they were released on different albums prior to this, but being that this was a remix album, why couldn’t they include those songs?

To Murder Inc’s credit, there were some decent tracks on here that stand out. Some of the other songs felt like filler. I am not really sure where I stand on this album, even though I very much prefer the other two compilations that they had put out. I know it’s a remix album, so it’s different, but at the same time there was some room for improvement in some areas. I would say that this album was just average at best.

3/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. The Pledge Remix
  2. Baby Remix (The one with Scarface)
  3. Come-N-Go
  4. I’m So Happy Remix
  5. O.G. Remix
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Compilation Review – Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc

Year of Release: 2002

Label: Murder Inc Records/Murda Management

Continuing with my special on Murder Inc compilations, the second one that The Inc had put out had seen the roster expanding a lot more than before. One could argue that the Murderers compilation had a lot more content considering there were more tracks on that one, but during the time this album had come out the roster had gotten new talent, and also had some selling albums in the process. Ja Rule had come out with “Pain is Love” the year prior, as well as “The Last Temptation” on the way later that year. Ashanti had come out with her self-titled debut album earlier that year, which had hit songs in “Foolish,” “Baby” and “Happy.” So The Inc had found its mark in the hip-hop and R&B industry at that point, which had the label put out another compilation album which showcased the talents and skills of the performers of that label.

While a few familiar faces had returned such as Ja, Vita, Ronnie Bumps, Black Child, 0-1, and Caddillac Tah (Formerly known as Tah Murdah), this compilation included the likes of new talent such as Chink Santana, Jody Mack, D.O. Cannon, and Young Merc (Pronounced “merce,” not “merk” like how it is often pronounced) as well as Ashanti, who had quite a presence up to the point of the release of this album, and Charli Baltimore, who was known before signing to The Inc and had an album that was shelved (I will try to hear “Cold as Ice” one day if I find a way). So she was a veteran in the game up to that point.

So with a lineup like this, it would seem that the best way to let the world hear what they are made of is through a compilation or mixtape. So did The Inc offer some good talent and songs to go with it? Well, let’s see.

Like the previous compilation before this, most of the songs were collaborations between different artists. However, unlike The Murderers album, there were less solo songs. In fact, there were only two this time around. In fact, the only solo tracks on here were from Black Child and Chink Santana. “O.G.” from Black Child has a laid-back beat to it but the content from the lyrics and the chorus left more to be desired than the beat. While “Hold On” from Chink Santana was actually a deeper track. He sang about struggles in the ghetto and also life in general. He also a good job in the production of this track.

When I said that there were a lot of collaborative songs on here, I meant that. Many of the songs have the subject matter of being thugs and gangsters and anything of that nature. Even the intro to this album was more of a song than an interlude with some of the rappers providing some verses here and there. “Gangstafied” is a definite example about living the gangster life with a good beat and chorus to go with it. The only part that seemed to be the one flaw of this song was Ronnie Bumps’s verse. It was not terrible, but it felt a little out of place. It was still a good song, though.

Every time I hear “Down 4 U,” it reminds me of the summer of 2002 because that song was everywhere during that time. People can say what they want about how Ja did a lot of R&B and love songs during that time, but there is no denying that he had a lot of hits that charted, including those lovey-dovey songs that he did. This was one of them, by the way. Ja had assistance from Vita, Ashanti, and Charli Baltimore in this song. Ashanti provided a good chorus with her vocals as well as a good verse. Vita and Charli Baltimore did a good job in their verses, too. Plus, the beat was nice, too. I have to hand it to 7 Aurelius for providing some influence in the production.

Speaking of 7 Aurelius, he also did some production for a couple of other songs on this compilation, which are “No One Does It Better” and “The Pledge.” The former is a collaboration between Charli Baltimore and Ashanti. It is really more Chuck’s track as she actually had verses while Ashanti mostly did the chorus of the song. Charli has a good flow and I have always thought that she was an underrated female rapper. While “The Pledge” is basically the closest to a solo Ashanti track on there. Bear this in mind, this is the original version as the more known version is the remix with Nas and Ja. Anyway, this song also had Caddillac Tah providing the rap on this song. I have always thought that this version was more underrated as it’s a good R&B track and it seems to be overshadowed by the remix. Ashanti did a good job on this song, with both the verses and the chorus, while Tah’s verse was actually pretty good.

Many of the other tracks are mostly songs with a lot of the then-new artists from the label showing the world what they have. Some of them stood out in some areas, others didn’t exactly measure up. One thing that I had noticed is that the song “Tha Nexx N****z” is a collaboration with a couple of Death Row artists from that time, Crooked I and Eastwood. I remember reading about how Death Row and Murder Inc were sort of collaborating at that point, which was the reason why there were appearances from those two. I am more familiar with Crooked I (This was way before Slaughterhouse, by the way) than I am with Eastwood, although I remember reading about him way back when. I think that this song is the only appearance from Dave Bing, who had a few more tracks on The Murderers compilation than he did here. Still a decent track, though.

One standout track in particular is the song “We Still Don’t Give A Fuck,” which is obviously a follow-up to “We Don’t Give A Fuck” from the previous compilation. One exception is that there is no sample of a Rocky song (Well, it’s actually Bill Conti’s score, but you probably would know what I mean) and that there are more people this time around. Also, Ja was not on this track at all, neither was Vita. However, it gave some of the other artists a chance to shine. This was song was also among the very few appearances of 0-1.

Although “Down 4 U” was the main single from this album, there was another song that was a single on this album, but it had existed before it came out. That song is “Ain’t It Funny,” the Murder Remix from Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule, and Caddillac Tah. When I first heard this, I was a bit surprised to find it on here as J-Lo’s remix album had already been out before this one was released, but I guess because there was a Murder Inc influence to it that it was inevitable that it would be on this one. I am not complaining as it had a good beat, even though it was a direct sample of Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear.”

In the end, this album was not bad. It was decent, if good in some areas, but my main issue is that it felt like there was more focus on the newer artists on this. Also, being that Charli Baltimore was a seasoned veteran, there could have been a lot more songs that she could have rapped on. I have read that she even had an album on Murder Inc that was set to be released, but it didn’t happen. I wonder if there is a way to listen to it. Irv Gotti did a good job with the production. Of course, this compilation was mainly to give music fans a taste of what the label had to offer at the time.

3.5/5

Next Up: Irv Gotti Presents: The Remixes

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Down 4 U
  2. Gangstafied
  3. We Still Don’t Give A Fuck
  4. The Pledge
  5. Hold On
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A List of Some Great Rap Love Songs

Hello, people. Here is a list of some 10 rap songs about love. They are in no real order.

P. Diddy feat. Usher and Loon – I Need A Girl Part 1

I never really thought that P. Diddy was a great rapper, but you can’t deny that this song was hot back in the day. Plus, Usher did a great job on the chorus.

P. Diddy feat. Mario Winans and Loon – I Need A Girl Part 2

Like the first one, this song was also hot. I liked the beat used for it and Mario Winans did a good job on the hook.

Method Man & Mary J. Blige – I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By (Puff Daddy Mix)

There are actually three versions. There was the original from the album, Tical. Also the Razor Sharp Mix and then of course this version. Out of those three, I prefer this version.

LL Cool J – I Need Love

One of the original hip-hop love songs and it still holds up to this day.

LL Cool J and Boyz II Men – Hey Lover

Another one from LL and he had Boyz II Men to provide the chorus. It is still a classic love jam.

Slick Rick – Teenage Love

A great song from Rick The Ruler himself.

Lost Boyz – Renee

I have always liked this song. Mr. Cheeks rapped about his late girlfriend. The beat really goes with the tragic feel of this song.

The Notorious B.I.G. – One More Chance (Remix)

I prefer this version over the original version.

Common feat. Mary J. Blige – Come Close

Ja Rule feat. Vita and Lil’ Mo – Put It On Me (The Radio version)

I am aware of the version on Rule 3:36 without Lil’ Mo, but I prefer this one because her vocals made the song better in my opinion.

Anyway, that is it for my list. I know that there are a lot of rap songs about love out there, but these are the ones that I like the most.

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