Album Reviews, Soundtrack Albums

Christmas Special – Reviews of “Christmas Rap Music” and “Friday After Next” soundtrack

Hello, out there. I know that I haven’t been doing much for this site lately. But as usual, I try to keep with a tradition, at least during Christmas time. Rather than do two separate reviews, I decided to combine them. I didn’t get a chance to get other albums that were on my Amazon Wish List. But some of the time, I got to plan ahead for future years, especially during the Christmas season.

So I’m going to do two albums. I’m going to start with “Christmas Rap Music” from Crew X. Not to be confused with the Christmas Rap compilation, which I covered already. The other will be the Friday After Next soundtrack. Right now, onto “Christmas Rap Music.”

christmasrap

Let me start off by saying that I came across this CD when I was looking on Amazon for the Christmas Rap compilation and then saw this on the suggestions list. I had no idea what this album was. From what I understand this was the sole album from a short-lived rap group called Crew X. It seems that little-to-no information is found on them. Hell, the insert for the CD is just the cover art. There was no information about the production of each track. The only thing that I found was information that this was released in 1992 and it appeared that this group was from Nashville, Tenn. because that city was listed on the back cover art. So this portion is not going to be long.

What I will tell you is that each of the songs on this album was a rap rendition of various classic Christmas carols like “The First Noel,” “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” etc. So in other words, this group did a rap spin on those traditional carols. I found it cute (and I never thought I would use this term to describe the beats) that beats had included some instrumentals with some rap beats combined with them. I couldn’t help but think it was kind of cute to hear a hip-hop beat of “The First Noel” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

So what about the lyrics? The rapper did a good job at rapping out the verses for the songs. Some of them had original lyrics added in to provide some additional lyrical content for the tracks. In fact, I found his rapping on “Jingle Bells” to be pretty catchy.

It appeared that it was the same rapper on most of the tracks. One song that had multiple people rapping was on “12 Days of Christmas.” What’s interesting about that track was that each rapper was rapping out the exact lyrics for that carol. It’s got to be heard to be believed.

It appears that the only original track was the final track of the album. It was called “The Christmas Rap.” The rapper on that track talked about Santa Claus, the reindeer, the elves, etc. and also experiences on Christmas and such.

One thing that makes me wonder is that this album was released in 1992, but the songs sound like they were recorded a lot earlier than that. This whole album had the feel of the mid-1980s. Not a bad thing by any means. It was actually interesting to hear rap versions of those old Christmas carols. The producers, DJs, and rappers did a good job at what they did. While it would sound a bit ridiculous to some, there is no denying that the songs were catchy.

If only there was more information I can find on Crew X.

3.5/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. The First Noel
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. 12 Days of Christmas
  4. The Christmas Rap
  5. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

mi0000372649

Here was something that I told myself to cover a year ago when I wrote my review of the movie, but I didn’t get around to it. Better late than never, right? Anyway, onto the review.

The first thing that unlike the soundtracks to the previous two movies, this was released by Hollywood Records, not Priority. It also seemed that around the time of its release, there had been some ads implying that there was an explicit version with the Parental Advisory label on the cover art. Why am I telling you this? Because this album was edited. I will talk more about this in a bit, but in the meantime, let’s get to the songs.

This album kicked off with the soundtrack’s lead single, “It’s the Holidaze” performed by Westside Connection. So it wasn’t just Ice Cube providing a song for the soundtrack. He also got WC and Mack 10 involved. This whole track was produced by Dallas Austin, as in the same guy who had produced the likes of TLC and Monica back in the 1990s. What was cool about this song is that when you hear each of the verses from Cube, Dub, and Mack respectively, they all have different feels. Personally, my favorite verse out of all them was WC’s.

Another standout track was “High Times” from FT and Tha Eastsidaz, as FT, Tray Deee, and Goldie Loc did a good job on their verses, but the standout part about it was the production from Fredwreck.  Even “Just Chill” from Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad was pretty dope, as Busta and Rah Digga provided some good verses. The same could be said about “Got All’at” from Nappy Roots (Remember them?).

Fredwreck also produced another song, which was a “Wonderful World” from Krayzie Bone, La Reece, and K-Mont. It was different, and had that “Whistle While You Work” sample, as well as some other 1950s/1960s vibe going for it, but not bad. It was pretty catchy.

50 Cent also appeared on this album, along with G-Unit. Lloyd Banks shined on his verse, as did 50, and Tony Yayo didn’t do a bad job on his verse. This was not long before he dropped “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” but from what I had read, this was recorded before that as it appeared on his mixtape, “50 Cent is the Future.” So this was before he blew up, even though he made his mark on the 8 Mile soundtrack.

What also could be said that the two tracks from Whateva and Roscoe stood out. Rockwilder presented this then up-and-coming rapper who showed a lot of promise on “Mardi Gras,” but I wonder what happened with him. Roscoe, as in Kurupt’s brother, showed a lot of promise on “Get Ready.” Mr. Kane (or Kokane, as he is better known) provided a good hook like he often does. However, out of these two, Roscoe would have a debut album coming out not long after that.

The last of the original tracks (or modern tracks) would come from R&B singer Calvin Richardson. The guy could sing and Jez Colin did a good job at the production. Being that this album came out in the early-2000s, this definitely has that vibe.

What about the rest of the album? Well, the rest of the album were old songs from Leon Haywood (RIP), Slave, Eartha Kitt (RIP), The Temptations, and Donny Hathaway (RIP). A few of them were Christmas songs, which I believed were played in the movie, and I am sure that the non-Christmas songs from these aforementioned artists were also in the movie. Not going to complain about their inclusions. If anything, they were welcome additions, as the soundtracks to the previous Friday movies had old songs on the soundtracks. The first Friday soundtrack had included the songs from Rick James, Rose Royce, and Roger, despite around the same time of its release, Priority Records had released an “Old School Friday” compilation which provided all the old tracks (plus original score tracks). The same thing happened when Next Friday came out, as there was an “old school” version of the soundtrack as well.

Quality-wise, I can’t complain about the songs on this album. I would rate it high, except for the fact that all of the songs are edited. This is what really got me. I could have sworn that back in those days, there were ads of this showing the Parental Advisory label. I even found pictures online about it. But when I got it, I found out that the soundtrack was edited. I am not sure what Hollywood Records was doing, because they didn’t do a good job at releasing any explicit versions. The songs were actually good, but it’s also distracting to hear the censors for it. Did Priority Records not want anything to do with this soundtrack? If Cube couldn’t get them to do it, he could have at least tried with New Line Records, as they released the soundtrack to All About the Benjamins. Then again, I remembered how Cube did that song “100 Dolla Bill Y’all” around that time and it was used for the promotion of the movie, but it wasn’t featured on the soundtrack to that. Maybe he didn’t submit it in time or there was an issue. I don’t know, but I do know that that song was on his greatest hits album which came out in 2001.

What’s puzzling is that I found a video of “It’s the Holidaze” and it has the explicit lyrics. Someone must have used the version played in the credits and put it in that video when uploading it on YouTube. Check it out:

But like I also said, I don’t have a problem with the soundtrack as the songs are exceptional, but what drops it were the edits on the songs. I could find the explicit versions of some of the songs on some mixtapes or albums (Like that Roscoe song appeared on his debut album).

3/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. It’s the Holidaze
  2. Get Ready
  3. High Times (Ride with Us)
  4. Just Chill
  5. Bad News
Standard
Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – Bones

Year of Release: 2001

Record Label: Doggystyle Records/Priority Records

Click here for my review of the movie.

I have been long overdue for this. I have been meaning to write a review on this for a while, especially when I do it in the middle of October. Last year, when I devoted most of my reviews to the Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz, I felt that I was missing something. I noted in one of my reviews that doing horrorcore rap albums should not really matter in the middle of October, as there are numerous horrorcore acts out there. But I had meaning to do this regardless. However, it would be hard to really label this a horrorcore album, as there were very few songs of that nature on this. How so? Well, let’s find out.

This soundtrack kicked off with an intro bit that had Snoop Dogg, who played the title character from the movie, “Bones,” of which this was the soundtrack. It was not really a song, but rather a narration of the character and his cause with music in the background. It had a nice beat to it, as it quite a funky and jazzy feel. However, what really kicked it off was the song, “The Legend of Jimmy Bones” from RBX, Snoop, and MC Ren. THIS song really had the horrorcore feel, and in a lot of ways, it was related to the movie as it talked about some bits of the plot, not to mention that there was a sound clip from the movie towards the end. The beat really gave it an unsettling feel.

One could expect that this album had a lot of Snoop’s affiliates on it, and that would be correct. Being that this was released under Snoop’s label, it seemed that it was to showcase some of the talent that it had. One song that stood out was “Lost Angels in the Sky” from Lost Angels and Kokane. I am not familiar with Lost Angels, though I am familiar with Kokane, who had done a lot of hooks for Snoop and crew back in the day. It had a great beat done by Battlecat, who had done “G’d Up” from Tha Eastsidaz and “We Can Freak It” from Kurupt in the past. In fact, a lot of people from Snoop’s crew appeared on here, ranging from Kurupt to Nate Dogg, and what better guy to do a hook on a song than this guy? May he rest in peace, by the way.

What I find funny is the song, “It’s Jimmy” from Kurupt and Roscoe. Not a bad song by any means, especially when it’s a collab between this brotherly duo, but this album came out around the time of “The Saga Continues” from P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family, and the chorus was similar to the song “Diddy.” I am certain that the chorus was derived from another song, but it’s hard not to compare the two.

One song that can really get your head bump is “Death of Snow White,” which featured Bad Azz, along with Chan and Coniyac, 2/3 of short-lived female rap act Doggy’s Angels (Remember them?). Funny I should mention them as the other member, Kola, appeared on the track that followed called “If You Came Here To Party.” Warren G produced a phat beat for that track. If anything, some of these songs could be played at parties or gatherings, and some of them can be danced to, especially “Raise Up” from Kokane. Also, Snoop did a damn good job at paying homage to “Payback” from James Brown on “Jimmy’s Revenge.” Fredwreck did a good job on the production of this song, one of many songs that he produced for this album.

However, it was not just Snoop’s own crew on this album, as there were some cuts from D12 and Cypress Hill. I can’t complain about “These Drugs” from D12, and things were hot for them during the time this came out as “Devil’s Night” came out the summer of that same year. Cypress Hill has never disappointed me with their music, so it was no exception, though I will say a longer version of “Memories” appeared on their album “Stoned Raiders,” which was released not too long after this album had come out. There was another track from a group that was outside of Snoop’s circle, as Outkast appeared on here and collaborated with Snoop on the remix to “So Fresh, So Clean.” I don’t mind that track, by the way, but it felt kind of loud when hearing the beat. Another song from FT was actually pretty dope on a lyrical level and the beat wasn’t too bad either. It had an East Coast vibe to it.

One thing that I had noticed when I was younger is that a lot of these hip-hop soundtracks more often than not had to have at least one R&B track for some reason. Now I do like R&B, but it just seemed that there were not a lot of hip-hop movie soundtracks that were top-to-bottom rap. Anyway, I did like the song “Ballad of Jimmy Bones” from Latoiya Williams, as it did relate to the movie and her soulful vocals really captured the feel for the song. As for “This is My Life,” the singer Kedrick has some decent vocals, but it would have been better if CPO had at least another verse, so it could have been equally singing and rapping. I also liked how “Be Thankful” from William Devaughn was added, as that song was played in the movie. It was a shortened version, as there needed to be more room for the other songs. However, I don’t think that the song “Endo” needed to be put in, as I was not sure what the purpose was. Was it an original score track? I know that Fredwreck produced it, but it just didn’t feel like it needed to be on it.

This album had a good amount of variety on here, but it really did not have a horrorcore vibe as a lot of the cuts were gangsta. Some were even good to play at parties. Even 17 years later, this album still holds up.

4/5

Top Five Tracks

  1. The Legend of Jimmy Bones
  2. These Drugs
  3. Memories
  4. Ballad of Jimmy Bones
  5. Fuck With Us
Standard