Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – 2 Fast 2 Furious

Year of Release: 2003

Record Label: Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/UMG Soundtracks

I have been slacking on this, but I am going to continue doing my series of Fast & Furious soundtracks.

In my review of the soundtrack album to the first film, I had criticized that album because of how a lot of songs were put on there despite having little relation to the film. Although there were some songs on that album that actually were in the movie, the rest of it just felt like they were put in just because. Now I did not hate that album. In fact, I like it, but at the same time it felt like a lot of the songs were just thrown together, even though a lot of the songs were good.

Now what I am going to talk about is the soundtrack to the second film of the series, 2 Fast 2 Furious. What also separates this from the first film’s soundtrack is that a lot of the songs on there were actually in the movie. Not to mention that unlike Ja Rule in the first film, Ludacris actually had a bigger role than his in this film as he had more screen-time. Oh, and he also had a couple of songs on the soundtrack. One of which included cast-mate Tyrese.

Being that Disturbing Tha Peace and Def Jam South had put out this album, this album actually has some southern hip-hop on here, as well as, of course songs, from DTP artists.

Many of the songs from DTP artists actually delivered, including “Act a Fool” from Luda himself. I still remember how that song was all over the airwaves back in 2003 as it was the lead single for this album. You can’t deny that Luda delivered some good lyrics as well as had that charisma to keep you into the song. It also had a good beat to back it. The other song, “Pick Up The Phone,” which also had R. Kelly and Tyrese is a decent track, but I will say that I have never heard R. Kelly rap before this song. It wasn’t bad, but it just seemed odd. Tyrese also provided some good vocals on that song.

Now what about the other DTP members’ songs? Well, “Slum” was actually a standout song from I-20, Shawnna, and Tity Boi (Later and better known as 2 Chainz). It definitely has that club-banger vibe. “Block Reincarnated” from Shawnna and Kardinall Offishall was another good track. Truth be told, I kept on thinking that Kardinall Offishall was Sean Paul. “Gettin’ It” from Chingy has a good beat from Trak Starz and Chingy’s flow really went well with it.

There was another song on this album that is from someone who had appeared in the movie. “Peel Off” from Jin was actually a decent track as it was fast-paced and Jin has a good flow and lyrical delivery, as well as rhymes, not to mention the song really goes with the driving aspect in the film. Speaking of driving, Lil’ Flip’s “Rollin’ on 20’s” was another standout track from H-Town’s own.

Many of the other tracks on this album have their own merits and are actually decent, if good. I can’t complain about “Hands in the Air” from 8Ball. “Hell Yeah” from Dead Prez is also a standout, with their political rhymes actually meshing well with a southern-influenced beat. The same could be said about Trick Daddy’s song. I can’t even complain about Fat Joe’s track on here. Not that I have ever complained about Joey Crack before. Hell, even “Pump It Up” from Joe Budden fit on this soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, I like Joe Budden, but something tells me that this song was a last minute addition as his self-titled debut album was released not long after this one. Also, “Pump It Up” was already out prior to this film’s release. Also, Pitbull had a song on here before he blew up a year later, and it was actually a decent track to dance to. By the way, this was way before he rocked the suits and the shades.

There were only a couple of songs that I didn’t care for, which were the Dirtbag and K’Jon tracks. They really didn’t stand out in my opinion.

I must also touch on a few tracks that made it to other versions of this compilation. It seems that the German and Japanese releases had tracks that were not on the American release. Also, there was a song that was on a further release from this version. To tell you the truth, a couple of those songs were actually good, which were “Get Dirty” from DJ Desue, A.G. and Party Arty, and the other was “Comin’ Up” from Saukrates. The other two were passable and I didn’t mind them, but hearing them now makes it feel a bit dated. I am talking about “Cruisin'” from Sphere of Influence and “Remember” from Cronite. I have never of those two acts, so I can’t really say much about anything else from them.

The 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack is actually a good one. I actually enjoyed it better than the soundtrack to the first film. There are a lot of decent-to-good tracks and very little filler. So I give this a good recommendation.

4/5

NEXT UP: The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift soundtrack

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Act A Fool
  2. Rollin’ on 20’s
  3. Slum
  4. Pick Up The Phone
  5. Peel Off
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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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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review: Thicker Than Water

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Year of Release: 1999

Film Studio: Palm Pictures/Priority Films/Hoo-Bangin’ Films

So I basically had thought of something to delve into and that is “rap movies.” I don’t mean movies that had the likes of Ice Cube or Tupac Shakur playing characters and them being the only rappers in them. I am talking about those low-budget “rap movies” that went straight to video, or even ones that surprisingly made it to theaters. I might touch on hood flicks in the future, but this right here will be the start of a category I have been wanting to touch on.

If you lived in the late-1990s to the early-2000s, there is a good chance that you may remember that there were low-budget movies that had come out that starred rappers, and I mean a good amount of supporting characters played by rappers. It was a common thing way back when. What better way to start this column with a movie that I remember loving as a teen that starred Mack 10 and Fat Joe as the leads called “Thicker Than Water.” Now that I am older and wiser, does this movie this hold up? Or was I just too blind and naive as the 14-year-old boy that I was who thought it was the best movie ever?

The funny thing regarding how I found out about this movie was when I was in middle school I saw an advertisement for it for pay-per-view. I then remembered it when a relative of mine had the soundtrack and then I came across this movie on Showtime. Oh yes, I remember watching this a lot on Showtime back in the day. However, nostalgia can only cloud one’s judgment for too long, and when one day when I bought it at a store a decade after having seen it, some of those positive memories of having enjoyed something as a youngster have faded away.

The story’s plot is as cliche as it gets. What it dealt with was DJ (Mack 10) and Lonzo (Fat Joe) are rival gang members who decide to put their personal differences aside to get into the drug game. Did I mention that these guys are also budding music producers who are trying to pursue careers in music in hopes to get out of the hood? What’s weird is that these guys are getting deeper in the crime world than just gang-banging in hopes to make it in some legitimate business. Oh, and these guys also have girlfriends that serve nothing more than either as arm candy (Or eye candy to the audience), which also makes me see how sexist, if misogynist, this film is (More on that later). If anything, this movie is nothing more than a glorified rap video, and it was even shot like one.

Let me get into a lot of the ridiculous aspects of this film. We start the movie with Mack 10’s character, DJ, narrating about how life in the hood is messed up and how there may not be ways to get out. Next thing we see is a bunch of friends playing football in the park with music playing in the background. It’s supposed to look like a happy time, until a couple of women get into a scuffle. One of the women, Leyla, is supposedly “DJ’s woman” and going off on some girl because DJ had talked to her on the phone. She beats the woman up, and then she makes a snappy comeback only for Leyla to blast her with a gun right there. Next thing we see is Leyla dropping off DJ at his girlfriend Brandy’s house, and her giving him shit about how she “shot a bitch over him” and now she was dropping him to see another woman. I mean seriously, this was only in the first five minutes of the film, and I already see that a lot of the characters are portrayed in a negative light.

I must add that only the first 15 minutes of this movie take place within that day period, where during that time we also meet Lonzo, Fat Joe’s character, as he is first seen hanging out with his friends on his porch playing some word guessing game for some odd reason, one of whom was played by MC Eiht of Compton’s Most Wanted, and was more than likely in this movie because at the time this movie was made, he was signed with Hoo-Bangin’ Records, Mack 10’s label. Then when Lonzo’s girlfriend Kim called him inside, Lonzo’z boys just decided to rough up DJ because he happened to have been walking down the street where he was not welcome. It was funny to see considering the bad acting from these rappers, and there was plenty of bad acting in this movie, believe me.

After this host of sequences within the first 15-20 minutes of the film, we finally get to the crux of the plot. You see, with DJ and Lonzo aspiring to be music producers, they come across a few problems along the way. Lonzo was producing an R&B girl group, portrayed by real life group named Soultre, whom were signed to Hoo-Bangin’ at the time, and then went to go meet with a record company executive, only to see that the group had already met with him. The executive told Lonzo that he offered the group an exclusive deal to record for his label, which pissed off Lonzo greatly to the point where he pulled out a pistol and threatened him with it. The crazy thing about this was that Kim, Lonzo’s girlfriend, handed him the gun right before left for the meeting. I am sure he needed to be strapped for protection against rival gang members, but did he really need to carry the gun into the record company building? While DJ’s record equipment blew up on him during a session in composing the beats. So both men were fucked in that situation. So what are they going to do? They are going to put aside their personal differences and join forces to find a way to raise money by selling dope on the streets. Enter Gator, played by another rapper named CJ Mac, who is living large with his operations primarily based in New Orleans, La. but also had some influence in California. If anything, this guy was like the Tony Montana-type in this movie, with a mansion and everything.

So there you have it, the story is just them selling dope, and then of course we have some dissension in their operation along with them regaining their previous conflict. Not to mention that we had a stupid surprise twist at the end of the film that made little sense. I will not say what it was, but if you were to watch it, you would find the revelation to be stupid, too.

Another thing that I must add, the poster and DVD cover say that it starred Ice Cube, but that was far from the truth. Ice Cube appeared in the film, yes, but only for two minutes tops. He played DJ’s cousin who was a mechanic and gunrunner by trade. He was never seen again after that. We also had some other cameos by WC, Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone, Bad Azz, B-Real and Big Pun. No disrespect intended for the late Big Pun, but when I see the scene when DJ and Lonzo meet with him at the diner, I wonder how he managed to fit into the booth. He looked like he barely got himself in there, and then of course we see that he has a drug stash hidden inside a refrigerator.

I have to say that this film did not hold up from when I was younger. Not that I thought that this was a movie deserving of awards, but I still liked it then. Nowadays, I would only watch it if I want to get a good laugh because this movie was obviously shot on a low budget. The acting was horrendous, especially from the two leads, and the story was predictable. I also must say that I could only count any positive characters on one hand. One in particular was DJ’s mother, who tried to tell DJ about his life and his father, though that subplot was an afterthought because there were only two or three scenes that mentioned DJ’s father. Another positive female character was Brandy, whose character was that of a college student trying to make something of herself, but even she became an afterthought with the only scene she had any real dialogue was when her and DJ were talking about their future at the beginning of the film. The only other time she was seen was when DJ and her, along with Lonzo and Kim, went to a comedy club. She had very little to do in the film and I am sure that the writers only added her in at the last minute. The aunt seemed like the only other positive character. DJ’s stepfather was only seen in two scenes, and I will say that I thought that the exchange between him and DJ was kind of funny in one of those scenes. All the other characters made it hard for me to root for them, especially the two leads.

This was indeed a bad movie, no doubt, but I have seen worse, MUCH WORSE, and I plan to review them in spite of how I felt about them (*cough*Hot Boyz*cough*). In the meantime, thanks for reading this. Also, I will review the soundtrack to this film. Stay tuned for that.

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Sprite’s ad campaign with rappers and Voltron

It has been a bit since I have last updated this. I am in the process of doing another review but I am debating between another movie soundtrack album, a compilation or an individual album from a rapper or group. Just recently, something came to mind that involved rappers, and it also involved Voltron.

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For those unfamiliar with this, Voltron was an animated series from the 1980’s that involved a team of astronauts who piloted these robotic vehicles that looked like lions and then formed a super robot called, you guessed it, Voltron. I have watched maybe a handful of episodes of the original series on Toonami, which was a block on Cartoon Network that aired some action cartoons like Jonny Quest, Thundercats, and anime series. I didn’t grow up watching this show, but from what I recall, it seemed entertaining. I must add that there were other series of this after the original.

Back in 1998, Sprite released a series of commercials that involved Voltron and the hip-hop culture. If you want to see them, look below:

What was interesting about these ads were that each of the lions had a rapper (and also group) representing areas.

Blue Lion – Goodie Mob, representing the South.

Green Lion – Fat Joe, representing the East Coast.

Red Lion – Common, representing the Midwest.

Yellow Lion – Mack 10, representing the West Coast.

Black Lion – Afrika Bambaataa, the leader of the team representing hip-hop as a whole, as he was one of the pioneers of the culture and a legendary rapper.

I know that this was not the only ad campaign that Sprite did that involved rappers, as a year after, they did one with female rappers and martial arts films, which I will touch on soon.

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