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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Album Reviews

Album Review – Ashanti Christmas albums.

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Years of Release: 2003 ; 2013/2014

Record Labels: The Inc Records (Ashanti’s Christmas); Written Entertainment/Entertainment One (A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti)

Here I am doing something that I haven’t done before prior to this. Okay, maybe I have done something similar, as in the past I had done a double review for my college newspaper when I reviewed Grand Theft Auto V and Saints Row IV as a comparison review. However, this is the first time that I have done one on music albums and being that it’s Christmas time, I wanted to do something like this especially if these two albums are from the same artist. I have also noted in the past that I am not opposed to doing R&B albums for this website. I also must add that I am a fan of Ashanti and in some ways, one of these two albums could qualify for this site as Murder Inc was (or is, as it still sort of exists) a rap label. So R&B was never out of the question for me to review on this site.

I will go over these two albums chronologically, which means that I will talk about Ashanti’s Christmas first.

Before I critique the album, I remember that I had contemplated getting this for years but I mainly listened to some reviewers on Amazon, which had given this a low score. Some had compared it to Whitney Houston’s (RIP) Christmas album that came out around the same time as this one did, but you can’t really compare to the two, especially considering how different their vocal styles were. But sometime later I bought her second Christmas album, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give the other one a go. I have to say that I went going with my own instincts and I came out actually enjoying it more than I thought I would, but there were some flaws on this album.

I won’t deny that she had limitations in her vocals, and her singing voice is rather high, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t try her best. She did well in some songs like “Christmas Time Again” and “Hey Santa,” which I initially expected to be a cover of the Carnie and Wendy Wilson song of the same name. I also enjoyed her version “The Christmas Song,” as well as “This Christmas,” but then you had her versions of “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World,” and “Winter Wonderland,” all of which could have been a lot better than they actually were. Also, some of the production had some jazzy feel to it, but some of the other tracks could have better work done to the beats and instrumentals. One of other song that I liked, however, was “Time of Year.”

This wasn’t a terrible album by any means, but in some ways, it is a good to play during the holiday season, but some of the tracks could have been better. In fairness, it was during a busy time for her as this came out the same year as Chapter II, her second album, and I am sure that there was not a lot of time to try to perfect the songs. Still, it’s decent enough to play during Christmas time, as some of the good outweighs the bad slightly.

As for A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti, it could be said that over time that things probably had improved vocally and the production was a little different this time around. I must note that I also bought this during the holiday season of 2014 at Target, which had a version that had two exclusive extra tracks. It was previously released in 2013 as an EP, before another version had come out with more tracks the following year.

What is noticeable is that this album does have the feel for the holidays, even with some songs having an R&B-lite beat for the background in some songs, like “Christmas Love” for example, as well as “It’s Christmas.” But what’s also noticeable is that even the uses of the bell sounds added to the beats to give it a Christmas-like feel. Her vocals had also matured over time. It HAD been a decade since her previous Christmas album.

I liked how the production was done for “Sleigh Ride” and “Let It Snow,” as they were rather upbeat for this album. The song, “Christmas is the Time,” was actually a re-worked version of “Time of Year” from the previous Xmas album. I liked both versions, but if you were to listen to both versions back-to-back, you can see the differences, as well as the comparisons. She also did a good job in other songs like “The First Noel” and “Santa Baby,” the latter of which I am not a huge fan of, but I’ll listen to her version (Along with Gwen Stefani’s version, as heard in her Christmas album).

The album closed off with “White Christmas,” and it was quite a family affair on this one, as her parents, her cousin, and her younger sister, Chi Chi, all sang on this one. Though the relatives were mainly backup singers in it, it was still a nice track to listen to and I have to give them all credit because it seemed that Ashanti wanted to do a song with her family and I can’t help but respect that.

Out of the two albums, I preferred A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti more than Ashanti’s Christmas, but I really don’t think that her first Christmas album was as terrible as people said it was. She was rather big during the time that album had come out and haters did hate on her during that time (Not to mention that she collaborated with Ja Rule, who was the biggest laughingstock in the rap world in 2003). It could be said that she had improved within that time, as well as more time was put into the second Xmas album, so that is why it was the better album of the two. But I know I will play the first one during the holiday season as well in the future.

Ashanti’s Christmas – 3.5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Time of Year
  2. Hey Santa
  3. Christmas Time Again
  4. Sharing Christmas
  5. The Christmas Song

A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti – 4.5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Christmas is the Time
  2. The First Noel
  3. Can’t Wait For Christmas
  4. Sleigh Ride
  5. White Christmas

 

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