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Movie Soundtrack Review – Tales From The Hood

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Year: 1995

Label: 40 Acres and a Mule Musicworks/MCA Records

Track Listing:

  1. Let Me At Them – Wu-Tang Clan
  2. Face Mob – Facemob feat. Scarface
  3. Tales From The Hood – Domino
  4. Born II Die – Spice 1
  5. Ol’ Dirty’s Back – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
  6. I’m Talkin’ To Myself – NME & Grench The Mean 1
  7. The Hood Got Me Feelin’ The Pain – Havoc & Prodeje feat. Dawn Green
  8. One Less N***a – MC Eiht
  9. From The Darkside – Gravediggaz
  10. Death Represents My Hood – Bokie Loc
  11. Hot Ones Echo Through The Ghetto – The Click
  12. The Grave – NGN feat. Killa

Prior to starting this blog, I had plans to write pieces on a bunch of albums in my collection and until now, I decided to wait until a particular time to write one on the soundtrack to the 1995 film “Tales From The Hood.” Now why did I wait until October to write a review on this film’s soundtrack? I figured because it’s Halloween-time and what better time than to write it on this? Anyway, let’s get on with it.

This album is quite a mixed bag, but I don’t mean in terms of quality. I mostly mean in terms of style. On one hand you have songs that are dark and creepy. On another hand you have some songs that are just straight violent and have more of a gangsta feel, and then you have some songs that either have some somber feel to it or just a little more of a straight hip-hop feel to it. So despite being the soundtrack to a horror film, it is not a horrorcore rap album, at least not at 100 percent.

To put it bluntly on the latter category, a couple of good examples of just straight hip-hop are the tracks, “Let Me At Them” and “Ol’ Dirty’s Back,” both of which are from two Wu-Tang Clan members, Inspectah Deck and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. First thing I must note is that even though it says that it’s a Wu-Tang Clan song, it’s only Inspectah Deck on the song. Not that it’s a bad thing, as it’s a standout track from him, but it could have just listed him instead of the group’s name or at least “Inspectah Deck of Wu-Tang Clan.” Anyway, “Let Me At Them” is a good track to kick things off as it is Deck spitting some sick rhymes in the process. It almost feels like he has one long verse in the song and he even produced the beat, according to the booklet. What a way to kick it off.

Now what about the ODB track? The only thing that I didn’t like about the track was the intro, with some boy calling out the names of west coast rappers, but then ODB said “Enough respect to the west coast,” as it is no dis to them. The beat on this song was rather grimy and ODB, along with his brother 12 O’Clock, had some good rhymes on this song. So score another one for the Wu on this album.

Regarding the gangsta tracks, “Face Mob” from…well, Facemob was actually a hardcore track in its own right. The first verse was done by Scarface and I think DMG and Smit-D were the ones who did the other two. The beat had a dark and gritty feel for the song and the lyrics went with it. While The Click’s “Hot Ones Echo Through The Ghetto” had a more upbeat feel to it with its beat, while the verses from each member were good, but it seems that E-40 and B-Legit had more than D-Shot and Suga-T, not to mention that she had the shortest verse on the song. Of course, frequent Sick-Wid-It collaborator, Levitti, provided the vocals on the chorus. And then you have a more somber-type of song from MC Eiht called “One Less N***a.” This song is like a mix of “Take Two With Me” and “Nuthin’ But Da Gangsta” from his first solo album, “We Come Strapped.” It has a more mellow yet somber beat that is mixed with hardcore lyrics. Not a bad mixture. I wouldn’t doubt if he had done this song not long after that album as it is similar to those two aforementioned tracks.

Then you have “The Hood Got Me Feelin’ Pain” from Havoc & Prodeje of South Central Cartel, NOT to be confused with Mobb Deep (The spelling of Prodeje is different from Prodigy), which is a song about the hard times in the hood. It felt like an emotional song from these guys and they spoke about the struggles. Dope track in my opinion.

Domino’s “Tales From The Hood” talks about the trials and tribulations of living in the hood as well. Domino mostly sang on this track and I think that was mostly his style looking back, as I still don’t really know much about him outside of “Getto Jam.” The rapper, Chill, on this track did a decent verse. Also, the beat was rather mellow, yet a little creepy.

Now we get to the horrorcore tracks. The odd thing about these tracks is that the majority of them were done by guys I have never even heard of before buying this album, while two other tracks were done by guys who are more known. I will start with the more known guys first.

Let me just say that one of the horrorcore tracks that stood out the most in this album was “Born II Die” from Spice 1. Now I know Spice 1 has more of a gangsta-style in his music, but this song has horror written all over it with his graphically violent lyrics and rather horror-style beat. Hell, I wonder if the beat that was used in the trailer for the film was a slowed down version of this song. If you saw the movie, there is no denying how well it went with that sequence.

“From The Darkside” by Gravediggaz also has a horror-like beat to it. It seems that it sampled some opera song. The beat was mixed by Prince Paul. I am going to tell you right now, you will get the chorus stuck in your head with them saying “You are dumb, and deaf, and blind.” It’s just infectious in an odd way.

Now we get to the three tracks from the unknowns. I don’t know if any of these guys had recorded albums after this, but if not, it’s a real shame, because these three songs are exceptional and have a good horrorcore vibe to them. Not to mention that the rappers had good verses in those songs. My favorite of the three is “The Grave,” especially when you hear that deep voice and that evil laugh towards the end of the song. However, “I’m Talkin’ To Myself” and “Death Represents My Hood” are still good tracks.

I have to say that this was a good soundtrack to an underrated horror film that I have seen. You have some straight-up hip-hop tracks, a couple of songs that talked about life in the hood, then you also have gangsta tracks and also horrorcore tracks. I mean it’s good that there was some variety on this soundtrack. Overall, I give it a 4/5.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Born II Die
  2. The Grave
  3. Let Me At Them
  4. Hot Ones Echo Through The Ghetto
  5. Death Represents My Hood
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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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