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.
Top 5 Tracks:
- For The Love of Money/Living For The City
- New Jack Hustler
- I’m Still Waiting
- There You Go Telling Me No Again
- I’m Dreamin’
Honorable Mentions: “In The Dust” and “New Jack City.”