Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – New Jack City

Year of Release: 1991

Record Label: Giant Records

It has been quite some time since I have done anything for this site. My own personal life got in the way, enough that I was started to lose touch with doing this. Luckily for me, I am usually conscious of my own habits, and a lot of the time I try to fight it when my interest wanes a bit, enough that I have to give myself a push.

So what led me to do a review on the soundtrack to New Jack City? Well, recently, I had been in the mood to watch the movie, which I may cover soon as it does relate to the hip-hop culture, as well as Ice-T starring in it, which then also caused me to listen to the soundtrack CD.

Brief history lesson, I first watched New Jack City back in 2001, which was 10 years after it had come out. I remember looking up the soundtrack on Amazon back then and noticing the lineup and thinking that it was stacked some popular artists, as well some who were not known (I’ll get to that). I remember I was intrigued by the soundtrack, especially with its early 1990’s vibe, which also showed signs of the late 1980’s (It really was fresh off of that, if you really think about it).

According to some sources, this was at number 2 on the Billboard 200 back in 1991, which indicates that this album was a hit back then. Hell, a lot of the songs from the soundtrack were released as singles.

The album kicked off with “New Jack Hustler” by Ice-T, who also starred in the movie. Remember, there was a time that whenever a recording artist was in a movie, whether as a character or playing himself/herself, the soundtrack was featured on the soundtrack. Anyway, the song was subtitled as “Nino’s Theme,” as it felt like it related to the villain of the movie, whose name was Nino Brown. The song was about the drug game and a drug dealer gaining success in it. It really describes the movie pretty well, too, and Ice-T did a damn good job on the song. The beat really went with the fast-paced verses that Ice-T delivered.

The second song on the album came from another guy who was also in the movie. Well, one who played a character, I mean (Because some other artists actually sang in the film). Christopher Williams, who had a decent career at one point, had a hit single with “I’m Dreamin’.” His strong vocals were good, but what made this song stand out as well was the New Jack Swing sound that it had. It even had rap verse put in, though I don’t know who it was from.

Of course, that was not the only New Jack Swing song that was on the soundtrack. The song, “New Jack City” from Guy is definitely a good example of it. It’s definitely one song that can get you get moving on your feet.

A lot of the songs on here, actually, are not without merit. Two of the slower R&B songs on here, “I’m Still Waiting” from Johnny Gill and “There You Go Telling Me No Again” from Keith Sweat definitely hold up now. I could be biased because I have always liked Keith Sweat, but Johnny Gill definitely made his song shine with his powerful vocals. Plus, both songs definitely could help you get in the mood for some alone time.

In my personal opinion, the song that stood out the most on the soundtrack was “For The Love of Money/Living For The City” from Troop and LeVert, as well as a rap verse from Queen Latifah. Now THIS song totally describes the movie to a T, especially when watching that sequence in the film when the CMB takes over that apartment building and it had Troop and LeVert harmonizing the songs and singing them acapella. Queen Latifah did a damn good job with her rap verse.

Another song that was a hit at that time was “I Wanna Sex You Up” from Color Me Badd. On a personal note, I remember hearing this song as a young child and having NO CLUE WHATSOEVER what the song was about. Now with that out of the way, one thing that I will note is that there were two versions of this song. There is the one that was on Color Me Badd’s album, “C.M.B.,” and then there was the one on this album. Either way, both versions have their merits.

I think it’s time that I should talk about the songs from the less-than-well-known artists on here. After hearing “Lyrics 2 The Rhythm,” I really wonder what happened to Essence. She actually showed some promise as a rapper, but it seems that this is the only song that she actually had released. Plus, this song was produced by the legendary Grandmaster Flash. “Get It Together” from F.S. Effect also had some good qualities to it. I am not sure if F.S. Effect was a rapper or a group, but the rapper did a good job on his part, not to mention it had a good message behind it. Also, Al B. Sure did a good job in the production on this track. I also cannot complain about Danny Madden’s “Facts of Life.”

The album closed off with “In The Dust” from 2 Live Crew. One thing that stands out about this track is that song was different from a lot of the songs that 2 Live Crew was known for. This song had a positive message behind it, especially when you hear Luke giving a brief interlude about drugs. I am not too familiar with a lot of their catalog, aside from “Me So Horny” and “Banned in the USA,” so it’s possible that they may have done other songs like this.

There was a reason why this album was such a hit back then. Even nearly 30 years later, it still holds up well. I cannot imagine someone blasting this album without skipping a track while doing something. You had a good mix of rap, R&B, and New Jack Swing. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

5/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. For The Love of Money/Living For The City
  2. New Jack Hustler
  3. I’m Still Waiting
  4. There You Go Telling Me No Again
  5. I’m Dreamin’

Honorable Mentions: “In The Dust” and “New Jack City.”

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Movie Soundtrack: Original Gangstas

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Year: 1996

Label: Noo Trybe Records

Track Listing:

  1. Inner City Blues – Ideal
  2. The World is a Ghetto – Geto Boys feat. Flaj
  3. X.O. – Luniz
  4. On The Grind – The Click
  5. White Chalk Part II – Junior M.A.F.I.A.
  6. How Many – N.O. Joe feat. 3rd Degree
  7. Flowamatic 9 – 3x Krazy
  8. Ain’t No Fun – Dino of H-Town feat. Teddy
  9. Rivals – Facemob feat. Scarface
  10. War’s On – The Almighty RSO feat. Mobb Deep
  11. Who Wanna Be The Villain – MC Ren
  12. Slugs – Spice 1
  13. How Does It Feel – Ice-T
  14. Good Stuff – Smooth

Another soundtrack album I am reviewing, and it’s from the same year as the album I previously reviewed. Detect a pattern? That’s not important. What’s important is this review. This is the soundtrack to the 1996 film “Original Gangstas,” which starred a lot of veterans in those Blaxploitation films from the 1970s, particularly the likes of Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Pam Grier, along with supporting roles from Richard Roundtree and Ron O’Neal and they basically played original gangsters battling against a new gang that took over their old neighborhood. Hence the title. The thing about this film is no matter how cheesy it was, it still had some good music in the soundtrack (Of course, there are worse movies out there that still have good soundtracks, and I WILL touch on those later).

The opening song, “Inner City Blues,” actually started a minute into the track, because there was actually dialogue from the movie right before the song started. Anyway, the song is from Ideal, an R&B group mostly known for songs that came out a few years after this one like “Get Gone” and “Whatever.” I will say that when Ideal came out with those songs, I thought to myself “Could this be the same group that did the song from the ‘Original Gangstas’ soundtrack?” and I am certain that nobody else around me knew of this song as I remember seeing a video for this song on TV back in 1996. I also must note that this song is a cover to Marvin Gaye’s song of the same name. The song itself had a good then-up-to-date sound to it. It did not sound like the original version, but it did not need to. Plus, it went well with the movie’s theme. This is actually one of my top favorite songs. 5/5

Right after one cover comes another as the Geto Boys covered War’s “The World is a Ghetto.” Okay, so it’s not a direct cover as the verses are completely different, but the chorus and the beat have similar vibes to the original version, however, with a hip-hop twist. This song is more socially-conscious, by the way. Scarface started the song with a good verse, but the second verse stood out more as Bushwick Bill delivered some of the hardest hitting lyrics in the whole song. Check this out:

Five hundred niggas died in guerrilla warfare
In a village in Africa, but didn’t nobody care
They just called up the goddamn gravedigga
And said come get these muthafuckin niggas
Just like they do in the 5th Ward
In the South Park and The Bronx and the Watts
You know they got crooked cops
Working for the system
Makin’ po muthafuckas out of victims
Don’t nobody give a fuck about the po
It’s double jeopardy if your black or Latino
They got muthafuckin drugs in the slums
Got us killing one another over crumbs
Think I’m lying? Well muthafucka I got proof
Name a section in your city where minorities group
And I’ma show you prostitutes, dope and hard times
And a murder rate that never declines
And little babies sittin on the porch smellin’ smelly
Cryin cause they ain’t got no food in they bellies
They call my neighbourhood a jungle
And me an animal, like they do the people in Rwanda
Fools fleeing their countries to come here black
But see the same bullshit and head right back
They find out what others already know
The world is a ghetto
Willie D also delivered some hard rhymes right after Bill’s verse, but in my personal opinion, Bushwick Bill killed it in his verse. Another one of my top favorite tracks. 5/5
After two covers of classic songs, we now get an original track,”X.O.” from Luniz. The one thing that stands out the most about the song is the beat. It has a smooth, yet intense feel to it. The song’s subject matter was mostly about alcohol and getting drunk. It’s kind of basic, but the beat’s nice. 3.5/5
“On The Grind” from The Click was decent, but there were some parts that could have made the song better. Maybe it was the chorus, because the verses from Suga-T and D-Shot at the beginning were decent, but B-Legit and E-40’s verses in the second act were better, and then all four had back-to-back verses in the third act of the song. The beat wasn’t bad either. It still could have been better. 3.5/5
Junior M.A.F.I.A. kicked this album into a higher gear with “White Chalk Part II.” I am a little unfamiliar with this group other than the fact that The Notorious B.I.G. was a part of it, as well as Lil’ Kim, neither of whom had verses on this song. However, the beat was nice as were the verses, but the beat stood out more, in my opinion. 3.5/5
Still in that same gear comes “How Many” from N.O. Joe. Did I mention that this is actually one of three songs that he contributed to on this compilation? Well, it’s true, as he produced “The World is a Ghetto” and “X.O.” but here is a song that he produced and has his name as the main credit. I am not sure if he rapped on this song, because there was another guy on here. The beat is sick, though. The subject matter is sort of basic as the lyrics are rather violent. On the beat side, I rate this a 5/5 and the lyrics part probably gets 4. Overall: 4/5
It’s about to get crazy up in here. Three times crazy, that is. Okay, that sucked. Anyway, “Flowamatic 9” from 3x Krazy is one of my other favorite songs from this album. Sick beat, ill rhymes, and not a bad chorus from Suga-T of The Click. What I find weird is that 3x Krazy had named one of their compilations “Flowamatic 9” and did not include this song. Seriously, this should have been included. 5/5
Now we slow things down with another R&B song on this album. “Ain’t No Fun” from the late Dino from the group H-Town has a sexual type of feel to it that could probably get people in the mood, but the song’s subject matter left more to be desired. It’s not much different than Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None),” except it’s R&B, not rap. The beat and the vocals weren’t bad at all, as it does set the mood, but the subject matter made the song lose some points. 2.5/5
Now we’re back to that hardcore gangsta shit. “Rivals” is a song from a short-lived super-group called Facemob, that has Scarface as one of the top members, along with somewhat-known artists like DMG and Devin The Dude. Now I am familiar with Devin The Dude to some degree, but in hindsight it seemed that he was out of his element trying to be a gangsta rapper. The worst part of this song is probably the female rapper 350, but I could go on about this more on their album, “The Other Side of the Law,” which I also own and may review in the future. I have to hand it to Devin for trying and DMG had a good verse on this song. Scarface mainly had the chorus to work with, so it was mainly just to have the rest of the group shine. One of my least favorite songs on this album, but not terrible. 2.5/5
“War’s On” is from a little-known group called The Almighty RSO, and better-known group called Mobb Deep. Now I will say that I am familiar with ONE of the members of RSO, and that is Raydog aka Benzino, who was mainly known for initiating a beef with Eminem back in the early-2000s, but that’s neither here nor there. Back to the song. One thing to know is that the credit may say Mobb Deep as part of the song, it’s mainly Prodigy who has a verse. However, Havoc produced this song, so it’s still a song that involved both members. Now as for the verses in this song, the only one that stood out the most was Prodigy’s verse. Benzino (I am mainly calling him this as he was mostly known by this name) was never a great rapper and he didn’t really have a great verse either, but it was not horrible. The other RSO members were okay at best. 3/5, mainly for Mobb Deep’s contribution.
Former N.W.A. member MC Ren dropped his contribution to the soundtrack with “Who Wanna Be The Villain.” The beat is a little different from what has been heard here so far, as it has more of a scary/creepy vibe to it. Ren had always been the most underrated members of the legendary group, and he should have gotten more exposure. This song shows that he was lyrically gifted. 4/5
Now for one of my other top favorite songs on here. Spice 1 kicks dope verses in his song “Slugs,” which doesn’t have anything to do with a certain creature I will tell you that. One of the parts that I like in this song is when it pays homage to “Slippin’ Into Darkness” from War. This song reminds me of a few songs from his album “1990-Sick” which came out months before this soundtrack did. 5/5
Second to the last song and we get one from a legend in the game, the one and only Ice-T. However, “How Does It Feel” is not one of his strongest songs. That does not mean it was bad. It could have been better. I see that it’s one of those “dirty raps” so it has sexual lyrics. It has a smooth beat, and Ice delivered on the lyrics a bit, but part of it still feels weak in some areas. 3/5
The soundtrack closed out with “Good Stuff” from Smooth. This is an R&B song, by the way. The song is sort of typical with Smooth singing and talking about she needs passion and a man’s touch and all that stuff. I liked the beat, and Smooth didn’t have bad verses, but the talking parts were a weak point in the song and it overshadowed everything else. It could have been a lot better. 2/5
Does this album still hold up? I will say that this was not a top-to-bottom great album, but there were hits than misses on here. I will say that out of the R&B tracks on here, only one was actually good, another could have been better even though it had some moments, while the last one just was not great at all. As for the rap tracks, a lot of them were good, even some of the lower-rated ones had some shining moments. I like the soundtrack, but it was not a great soundtrack by any means. I recommend it, though.
3.5/5 overall

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Inner City Blues
  2. The World Is A Ghetto
  3. Slugs
  4. Flowamatic 9
  5. Who Wanna Be The Villain
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