Soundtrack Albums

Movie Soundtrack Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Record Label: Aftermath Entertainment/Doggystyle Records/Interscope Records

When The Wash came to theaters, there was no denying that with who the two lead actors in that film were that there would be a soundtrack album to go with it. As I had noted in my review for that film, there was some heavy plugging for the soundtrack. But just how good was the soundtrack? Well, let’s see about that.

There was a time when you would see that if a recording artist had a part in a movie, whether the person was playing a character role or appearing as him or herself, there was a good chance that the artist would be featured on the soundtrack. In the case for this film, there is a lot of influence from both Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on this album, with Aftermath and Doggystyle respectively having their labels imprinted on the artwork for the cover and disc.

Both Dre and Snoop had a couple of tracks on this album, “On The Blvd” and the titular track called, well, “The Wash.” Not to mention that they were the first and last tracks on the album, respectively. Both tracks have their merits, with Kokane doing his bit on the chorus of “On The Blvd” and the beat definitely has the right feel when you would go out cruising, especially in a low-rider and hydraulics bumping in the process. However, “The Wash” stands out more in comparison. This song felt like an unofficial sequel to “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” from “The Chronic.” There were some parts of the beat that were similar to that song, as well as the mixing of other parts of Leon Haywood’s “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You,” which was also sampled in “Nuthin’ But A G Thang.”

Those songs weren’t the only contribution that Dre had on this album. While he had some influence on the production of some other tracks, he had heavy influence on a couple of that songs that featured then-newcomer Knoc-Turn’al. “Bad Intentions,” which also featured Dre as a rapper, had an awesome beat with a good flute sample to go with it. Also, Knoc-Turn’al provided some good lyrics to go with it. However, “Str8 West Coast,” the other song with Knoc-Turn’al on there, showed more of what he had to offer as a rapper, with a good beat to go with it, too.

As far as the other tracks go, it’s sad to say that so few actually stood out in comparison to the aforementioned songs. While the songs like “Blow My Buzz” from D12 and “Bubba Talk” from Bubba Sparxxx are decent, they were already out from their respective albums that were released the same year. They were played in the movie, yes, so maybe that may have given them a pass. The same could kind of be said about “Holla” from Busta Rhymes, as that was also on “Genesis,” but that album didn’t get released until a month after this one. On the other hand, Xzibit had a standout track in “Get Fucked Up With Me.” It felt like he went back to his roots with the Likwit Crew with this one. It is definitely a good song to drink and/or smoke to.

Then you also had the original tracks from the rest of the artists on this album. Now I can’t complain too much about all of them, because some of them had their own qualities to them. For example, longtime DPG affiliate, Soopafly, did a decent job in “Gotta Get Dis Money, but the chorus gets annoying fast. Bilal had a good song on there, too. I remember when he had quite a presence during those days. Then you had some of the no-names on here. Out of all of the less-than-well-known artists, there were only a couple of tracks that stood out. One was the R&B track, “Everytime” from Toi, or I should say LaToiya Williams. She has a very soulful voice and the song can really get you in the mood for some alone time with your S.O., and also a good sample from J. Dilla’s beat to Slum Village’s “Get Dis Money.” The other is “Riding High” from Daks and R.C. Daks had some good rhymes to go with the beat by Focus. The one track that I kind of put in the middle is “Benefit of the Doubt” from then-Aftermath singer, Truth Hurts, along with rapper Shaunta (Not to be confused with Shawnna from DTP). Truth Hurts didn’t do a bad job on the song as she sang well, and Shaunta did fine on her part, but the beat felt a bit out of place. It felt like something you would hear at a Baptist church on Sunday with the organ sample. I was not big on the rest, though. “Don’t Talk Shit” from Ox had a good beat, but the rapper sounded like he tried too to emulate Busta Rhymes. While “No”from Joe Beast got old fast, but the beat was also nice. Then you had “My High” from R&B singer, Yero, who is not a bad singer, but the whole song sounded too much like something Musiq Soulchild would have done back then. Shaunta sounded too much like she tried to emulate Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown with her song, “Good Lovin’.” I don’t mind dirty rap, but she tried a little too hard with this one.

I remember that I had gotten this album as a Christmas present way back when. Now I don’t mind listening to it, but it definitely has not held up over time. The odd thing about this album is that the standout songs on here were from the more known artists. The rest had more to be desired. It was an average album in hindsight.

3/5

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. The Wash
  2. Bad Intentions
  3. On The Boulevard
  4. Str8 West Coast
  5. Everytime
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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Wash

Year of Release: 2001

Film Studio: Lionsgate Films/Lithium Entertainment Group

When I first thought about reviewing “rap movies,” as I like to call them, I had initially thought about mostly doing reviews on these low-budget, straight-to-video releases that had a good amount of rappers in the cast, or at least ones that have a few in starring roles. A couple of examples that I did were Thicker Than Water and Hot Boyz, one movie that I fell out of love with yet still get a bit nostalgic over. The other being a film that I would rather use as a torture technique to punish someone who wronged me. However, I had also thought about the films that starred rappers that still managed to make it to theaters. Of course I had done a couple already that were given theatrical releases, Bones and Half Past Dead.

What is funny about all of this is that there are a lot of movies that have rappers in them, yet I am unsure on which ones to do and what not to do. Of course, at the moment I have a few in mind that I want to do, at least for the time being. One of those films is 2001’s The Wash.

This film was basically a starring vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. These two have a lot of chemistry when it comes to music. Hell, those two had collaborated a lot dating back to their days with Death Row. But the question is do they also have that kind of chemistry on screen? Well, that is REALLY good question.

Both men in their roles feel like they are playing themselves. Also, Dre’s character, Sean, is basically the straight man to Snoop’s Dee Loc, who is the wisecracker. In some ways it feels like when Ice Cube played Craig to Chris Tucker’s Smokey in the first Friday film. However, those two had amazing chemistry in that film. In this film, that comedic chemistry is lost on Dre and Snoop, despite having worked well together in music.

I have to also note that Dre and Snoop also have production credits in this film, among a few other people. Which I am like “Huh?” I can only imagine that only so many people can help the production of this film. But where the main thing lies is in the writer/director, DJ Pooh (For those who don’t know, his name is actually Mark Jordan). Of course, this film is not DJ Pooh’s first film credit. He had done some of the writing in Friday (And also played a character in that film) and also had written and directed 3 Strikes, a film that I also must revisit. Not to mention he also had a role in this film (More on this later).

Regarding the film’s story and writing is another part that shows how flawed this film is. In a nutshell this movie is about how Sean got fired from a job and ends up getting a job at, well, The Wash, which is the name of a car wash that has the employees washing cars for customers. So it isn’t one of those car washes where people can drive into and the car gets clean by the machinery. Nor is it a car wash where people can do it on their own with the use of hoses and brushes. It seems like a then-modern-day spin on the 1976 cult classic, Car Wash, but with more of a hip-hop/gangsta twist and no Rose Royce soundtrack to back it but rather rap tracks from Snoop and Dre, along with other hip-hop and R&B artists from Snoop’s label and Dre’s label. However, it seemed to have told three different stories in one film (along with a few subplots), which was one of the film’s problems. It even noted the different plot points on the back of the DVD case.

In the film, part of the plot had Sean, Dre’s character, becoming assistant manager to Mr. Washington (George Wallace), who was also called “Mr. Wash” as a nickname. Being that Sean tried to be an honest and responsible employee, he had gotten on the case of Dee Loc, Snoop’s character, for dealing and smoking weed while on the job and slacking. Of course, this rubbed Dee Loc the wrong way enough that it set up some conflict between the two. I must add that those two started off as friends at the beginning of the film who were also roommates. But then later on another subplot takes over the story which showed how flawed the writing was. The other plot of the film involved a kidnapping by Slim, played by DJ Pooh, who was the film’s antagonist, but he didn’t even show up until much later into the film. It was almost the storyline involving him was shoehorned in.

There were some subplots that seemed rather confusing and some that just finished at the snap of a finger. One example for the latter is a romantic subplot involving Sean and a female customer who he hit on at the car wash under the guise of an insurance salesman, when he happened to have stolen a customer’s jacket to hide that he worked at the car wash. Then of course that subplot was dropped not too long after it was revealed that he lied to her. That subplot was not needed at all and it would not have made a difference if it were out of the movie completely. On the plus side, she was never seen again, so there was no predictable part with her coming back and trying to give their whole thing another chance. As for another subplot, I totally wondered what the deal was with Eminem’s role in the film. He played a character who was fired from the car wash, but all he did was just call Mr. Wash and just threaten him. This was before 8 Mile, by the way, and it seemed like he was doing his Slim Shady persona when doing this film. Although I will say that he got some laughs out of me during his appearances.

One thing that annoyed me is that there was a lot of heavy plugging for the film’s soundtrack and also actually saying that the artists who did some songs were from Dre and Snoop themselves, the film’s lead actors. Okay, I get that they played characters, but it just seems odd how even the actors who played the characters exist in this universe as rappers. I don’t recall the Friday movies making reference to Ice Cube albums or ads with Craig present. In one scene, Tray Deee, one of Tha Eastsidaz and also one of Snoop’s boys from the DPG, was even referred to by his stage name and was acting as a character in this film. So he was basically playing himself and hanging out with a few moronic gangbangers? I didn’t understand it either.

Another thing about the soundtrack, and this is a minor spoiler here, is that in the credits, the video of “Bad Intentions” from Dre and Knoc-Turn’al was shown. It was an uncensored version, by the way, and the actual censored version was an extra on the DVD.

There were also some cameos by Ludacris, Pauly Shore, Shaquille O’Neal, and Xzibit. Also, one of the female characters was played by Truth Hurts, a singer who was on Dre’s label, Aftermath, at the time, but was credited by her real name, Shari Watson. One small note, but there was an appearance by Shawn “Solo” Fonteno, who is best known for playing Franklin Clinton in Grand Theft Auto V. He played Slim’s right-hand man. I also must add that DJ Pooh was the DJ for the West Coast Classics station in GTA V as well. This movie came out 12 years before that game did, but I just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway, this is not a good film, but I don’t hate it. I remember people had told me that it was not good when it came out, especially because I wanted to see it in theaters. According to some sources, it didn’t do well. It was shot on a $7 million budget but only made $10 million in the box office. I wonder if that was domestically. The first time I watched it was when I rented it when it came out on DVD. I had bought the DVD for this film much later and I had recently found it after having lost it. This film is more or less a time-waster or a movie that you can have on as background noise while doing other tasks. It is not a bad way to spend a boring Saturday or Sunday or any other day-off for that matter when you have nothing to do. You can do better but you can do a lot worse, too. I think it is mostly “meh,” if bad in some areas, but then again, a much funnier movie came out a month after this that starred rappers, which I will cover soon.

NEXT UP: HOW HIGH.

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Album Review: Snoop Dogg presents Christmas In Tha Dogghouse

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Year: 2008

Label: Doggystyle Records

Here I am in my final post for my holiday special, well, for this year, anyway. I had trouble finding another Christmas rap album to do, and then I bought this album because I was curious about it.

Up until sometime this year, I had no knowledge about this compilation. While I had planned on writing about Christmas on Death Row and High Fo’ Xmas for a long time, I had trouble finding something another Christmas hip-hop album. Initially I had thought about buying the Christmas Rap compilation, which also included the holiday classic, “Christmas in Hollis” from Run-DMC, but I didn’t get around to it. I realize that there are more Christmas albums done by rappers out there, so I could probably do those in the years to come. I wouldn’t mind throwing in a few Christmas albums from R&B artists.

Anyway, regarding this album, I will say that it’s kind of odd to listen to, especially during the holidays. I had said that “High Fo’ Xmas” is funny to listen to considering its content and how most of the songs had very little to talk about regarding Christmas, but this album actually took the cake in being an odd listen. For example, the song “A Gift that Keeps on Giving” from Damani felt like a song that belonged somewhere else. While holiday references were made, the flow sounded like he wanted to use that for a totally different song and the chorus repeated itself numerous times towards the end. It almost felt like it had skipped multiple times to the point where it felt like it wouldn’t end.

Also, “A Very Special Christmas” felt like the singer, Uncle Chucc, didn’t put a lot of effort into his vocal performance. It could have been better than it actually was.

In fact, many of the songs on this album left a lot more to be desired. I didn’t have a problem with the beats that were used in a few of the songs, as “My Mama Trippin on Christmas” had a nice beat to go with the holiday feel, but the subject matter in the lyrics didn’t go with the flow of the song. The flow of the rapping went with the beat better than the lyrics, however.

The parts that actually shined on this album were done by the veterans in Snoop, Kurupt, Daz, Lil 1/2 Dead and The Twinz. Nothing against the other artists, but I actually found more enjoyment in “This Christmas” from Tha Dogg Pound as well as “Just Like Xmas” from Lil 1/2 Dead and The Twinz. “Look Out” was another one that stood out as it included a few of the aforementioned veterans, as well as a good chorus from Nate Dogg (RIP). Snoop, Daz and Kurupt all had good verses in the song. “Xmas Trees” from Kurupt is actually a fun track to listen to, especially with a few references to weed. It lit up the album more, no pun intended.

The song “When Was Jesus Born?” from Lil Gee is a song I can give an A for effort, too, but it still could have been better. The vocals reminded me a little bit of T-Pain. The beat was decent, though, and I have to say that the subject matter really captured the Christmas spirit in the religious sense.

Back to when I talked about the songs from Damani, it was not his fault that the songs weren’t great. In fact I am curious about checking out more of his stuff in the future because he had shown promise as a rapper and I know he was also affiliated with Snoop. But the songs he did weren’t exactly great as he was not given decent content to work with.

In spite of a few good things that I said about this album, I really did not care for it. I don’t know if I will find myself jamming to this in the Christmases to come, at least not like Christmas on Death Row. I actually enjoyed that album and High Fo’ Xmas is something that I would put on if I am bored or something around the holiday season. I don’t recommend this album, but it’s a downloadable album so I would only recommend a handful of tracks. It really was not a good album in my opinion.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Look Out
  2. This Christmas
  3. Twas The Night Before Christmas
  4. Xmas Trees
  5. Just Like Xmas
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Other Christmas rap songs and Chronic commercials.

Hello, being that Christmas is near, and I mean NEAR, I decided to do a piece on a couple of Christmas rap songs that I like listening to around this time. I also want to touch on commercials for The Chronic, which came out in December of 1992. There are two songs that I will talk about, and they are “It’s The Holidaze” from Westside Connection and “Merry Muthaphuckkin’ Xmas” from Eazy-E, along with other Ruthless artists from that time. Now why on earth did I not do a review on the “Friday After Next” soundtrack instead, or even a review on Eazy’s EP, “5150: Home 4 Tha Sick”? Well I don’t own the “Friday After Next” soundtrack and if I get my hands on it, I will only do it around Christmas-time considering that film took place during the holidays. As for “5150,” I plan to do that one in the future. So without further ado, here are the songs.

NOTE: None of these videos are mine.

I have to say that the Eazy-E song is hilarious because it’s a total parody of Christmas songs with a bunch of violent, drug and sexual content added into the mix. One part that had always cracked me up was the spoof of “My Mom Kissing Santa Claus.” Same with Eazy’s bit when he spoofed “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Also, I later learned that a Will.i.am and Apl.De.App from Black Eyed Peas were once signed to Ruthless Records, but under different names. They were initially known as The Atban Klann and had recorded an unreleased album for Ruthless during that time. Unlike “High Fo’ Xmas,” this song is THE definition of a Christmas gangsta rap song. It is definitely not family-friendly, but it is good for a laugh, especially around the holiday season.

As for “It’s The Holidaze,” I remember watching this video many times throughout the years as it has become my own personal Christmas tradition to listen to it around this time of the year. I like how in the video with each verse, they all have the different color schemes that go with Christmas. Ice Cube’s verse has it all white, WC’s verse is all green and Mack 10’s verse is all red. Also, I noticed how the beats transitioned a bit to go with the flows of each rapper. My personal favorite verse of the song was WC’s.

Now here comes another part that is a little unrelated, but it goes with the holidays.

I know that Dr. Dre had released “The Chronic” during the holiday season of 1992, but what cracks me up about these ads is the Christmas tree looking like it was made entirely of hemp. Also, one of the ads had a female voice-over say “Dr. Dre’s got the chronic, so take a hit.” I really wonder where these ads were seen. I would only guess that they were mainly shown on The Box, MTV (When they still aired videos) and probably BET. Hey, at least Death Row knew what they were doing with their advertising during those days. It feels kind of dated now seeing album ads done that way, but it’s still fun to see.

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Album Review: West Coast Bad Boyz – High Fo’ Xmas

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Year: 1994

Label: No Limit Records/Solar Music Group

Track Listing:

  1. High Fo’ Xmas
  2. Intro
  3. Lock Up Fo’ Xmas
  4. Talk
  5. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  6. Chillin’ N Da Game
  7. Ghetto Nite
  8. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  9. Hood Carols
  10. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
  11. No Limit Party

So now I am continuing with my Christmas/holiday special. I held on to my promise to do the compilation of “High Fo’ Xmas” from West Coast Bad Boyz. This is a No Limit album, by the way, and unlike “Christmas On Death Row,” this isn’t a traditional holiday album and I will admit that I bought this album as kind of a counter to the Death Row album. I saw that this wasn’t a family-friendly Christmas album to begin with.

If anything I bought this as a joke on my part. It wouldn’t be the first time that I heard some Christmas rap song that isn’t really appropriate to listen to. “Merry Muthaphuckkin Xmas” from Eazy-E is a rather humorous song that spoofs Christmas songs. Some songs on here are similar to that, and then you also have songs that didn’t need to be on this album to begin with.

I will note that this album came out in the days when No Limit still represented the West Coast, particularly the Bay Area. This was before they became a more south-based label when they had those gaudy Pen & Pixel album covers. Hence why this was a West Coast Bad Boyz compilation.

One thing that really got me about this album was that it had the intro as the second track, when the intro is often the first track of the album.

Anyway, a lot of the tracks on this album varied and mentioned Christmas and the holidays in passing, but there weren’t that many tracks that were about Christmas. For example, the opening track, which was also the title track, talks about getting high around the holidays in one of the verses, but then the rest has little reference to the holidays. Not a bad track. It has a laid-back beat that has the feel of a stoner song. Hence the name.

“Lock Up Fo Xmas” was similar in that it talked about being locked up during Christmastime but then went into the struggles of being locked up. King George, a rapper who I am really unfamiliar with, actually had good verses in this song. So this was actually a decent track. I will say the same thing, or maybe that this song was better, when thinking of “Jacking Fo Da Holidays,” as that song used a lot of beats from different songs ranging from “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” from Bone Thugs to “Funkdafied” from Da Brat. There were a lot of beats used on this song to name, and it was funny to hear P try to rap some of the verses similar to the rappers from each respective song.

One song that drew my attention prior to buying this album was “Christmas in da Ghetto” and it’s kind of a strange track to listen to as there is some transition in beats when listening to the chorus and the verses. One minute you would hear the chorus, which is similar to “Deck The Halls,” and then when you hear the verses from C-Murder and Master P, it has a totally different beat. I will add that when I listened to one verse from C-Murder, it reminded me of a song from RBL Posse, particularly from their album, “A Lesson To Be Learned.”

“Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party” is another decent track from other No Limit rappers during that time, Big Ed (RIP), Lil Ric, and Dangerous Dame.

Keeping with the Christmas theme that this album has, a couple of interludes had different versions of traditional Christmas carols, like “Ghetto Nite” was a different take on “Silent Night.” While the “Hood Carols” was Master P singing his own rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It’s actually rather humorous.

Remember when I said that there were tracks that felt like they belonged somewhere else? Well, those two songs are “Chillin’ in Da Game” and “No Limit Party,” which the latter is a remix. They have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but they are decent tracks nonetheless. I now wonder where I could find the original version to “No Limit Party.”

The only thing that I have an issue with about this album is that it really didn’t have the feel of a gangsta rap Christmas album. Sure, there were songs that talked about getting high, the drug game or hard time around the holidays, but take that part away and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s still a decent compilation, though. I plan to do other No Limit albums in the future and I know that there are a lot out there.

Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Jacking Fo Da Holidays
  2. Christmas In Da Ghetto
  3. Lock Up Fo Xmas
  4. High Fo’ Xmas
  5. Rev. Do Wrong Xmas Party
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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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Uncategorized

Movie Soundtracks: The Substitute

The Substitute soundtrack

Year: 1996

Label: Priority Records

Track listing:

  1. Hoo-Bangin’ – Mack 10
  2. Licorice Stiks – Intense Method
  3. Danger – Road Dawgs feat. AllFrumThaI
  4. Miami Life – Ras Kass
  5. Bring It On – Organized Konfusion
  6. Bang ‘Em Up – TRU feat. Mr. Serv-On
  7. Head Up – Young Murder Squad feat. Sh’Killa
  8. I Got That Cream – Master P
  9. Hood Life – Lil 1/2 Dead
  10. Money, Power & Women – G-Spot Geez
  11. All of Puerto Rico – Afro-Rican

Many years ago, it would seem that a lot of movies were made in order to also sell soundtrack albums to said movie. That is not to say that the movies weren’t made for people to watch, but there was once a time when an advertisement for the film’s soundtrack was placed in a trailer/TV spot, particularly a list of artists on the film’s soundtrack.

This takes me back to when I was only a young boy. Having become a hip-hop fan at a rather young age, one thing that I will note was that when I saw a TV spot for the film, “The Substitute,” the main thing that caught my attention was the list of artists there. It had a good lineup, even though I was unfamiliar with a few of them at that time. Hell, a couple of acts on this album probably didn’t even have much work after this. However, that is not to say that they didn’t have bad tracks. Regarding the film, on the surface, it looked like a knockoff of “Dangerous Minds,” which came out a year prior, except the movie had more of an action twist and the school that Tom Berenger taught at made the school that Michelle Pfeiffer taught at seem like a Christian school.

But enough about the movie, it’s time to talk about the soundtrack, and how does it hold up compared to 20 years ago.

The first track that is heard on this album is “Hoo-Bangin'” from Mack 10. This song was actually a single for this compilation back in 1996 and being that Mack 10 was at one time Ice Cube’s protege and frequent collaborator, Cube had a production credit for this song. He was also heard in the song’s chorus. As for the song itself, it has a similar sound to Mack 10’s song “Foe Life,” not to mention that he mentioned it in a verse. Here is what I mean:

I’m on the hunt for the loot, watch your pockets cause I pat em
Bailin through the hood in chucks and stacey adams
Got the spot still poppin, got your legs still rockin
Ever since foe life, my ex bitch been jockin

The song is still quite a banger. It had a good beat and Mack 10 had spit some good rhymes in it. One of my top favorite songs on this album. 5/5

The second track is “Licorice Stiks” from Intense Method. No, this song is definitely not about a certain snack. I am not familiar with this group at all. In fact, I don’t think that they had many cuts apart from this one, let alone an album. This song was produced by West Coast rap producer Rhythm D, and there was a good rhythm to it. Plus, the group’s members had some good rhymes in their verses. However, the main flaw about this song is the chorus as it got a little repetitive after a while when it talked about having “phat beats.” But still a good song, nonetheless. 4/5

“Danger” from Road Dawgs and AllFrumThaI (And that is pronounced “All From The I”) is a typical West Coast gangsta track about gangbanging with violent lyrics. One thing to know about the Road Dawgs and AllFrumThaI is that they were collaborators of Mack 10. The album’s chorus is kind of infectious, though, as it would stay in your head for a bit. However, that doesn’t mean the track is bad. It’s still a good song to listen to despite its subject matter. 4/5

The irony about this album is that while the movie was set in Miami, FL, a lot of the artists on here are West Coast rappers. Ras Kass, who is from Carson, Calif., did the song “Miami Life,” which does go with the movie’s theme, but it doesn’t really talk about the events of the film. It’s more of a song that is inspired by the film, if anything. Ras Kass’s raw vocals are backed by a smooth beat. Ras Kass did not fail to deliver his lyrics on this track. Also, the beat had an interesting feel. One of the other top tracks on this soundtrack. It was even a single back then, too. 4.5/5

Now we take it to the East Coast with Organized Konfusion’s “Bring It On.” Pharoahe Monch delivers the goods whenever he rocks the mic, and the verse he did was no exception. Prince Po also delivered some ill rhymes in his verse. One of the best tracks on this album. 5/5

Now we head down to the South in No Limit territory with “Bang ‘Em Up” from TRU (The Real Untouchables is what that stood for) and Mr. Serv-On. Truth be told, I will say that I got this song confused with “Danger” in the past because the chorus repeated itself and the beat is somewhat similar, or at least the intro to the song was. The beat was actually good, as it was produced by KLC. Mr. Serv-On had a good verse, but the weak link to this song was Silkk The Shocker’s verse. It is still a decent track nonetheless. 3.5/5

“Head Up” from the Young Murder Squad, along with a female rapper named Sh’killa, is one of my other favorite tracks from this album. This song is different from what has been heard. The beat is fast-paced, and some of the rappers on this song had good verses. I was also impressed by Sh’killa, who, like even the Young Murder Squad, is someone who I am unfamiliar with. I heard that YMS and Sh’killa have albums. I may have to cop those someday to check them out. Maybe review them, too. 5/5

And now we return to No Limit with Master P’s “I Got That Cream.” Now Master P was never a good rapper, but this song was actually decent. Actually, during this time, he was not bad. The song had a good beat, though the subject matter of this song was basic, as it talked about drug-dealing. Not a bad track. 3.5/5

“Hood Life” from Lil 1/2 Dead is also another standout track on this album. Now I know that this rapper never achieved success like some other people in the DPG family did like Snoop, Kurupt, Daz, etc. but he actually had some raw lyrics about, you guessed it, the hood life. 5/5

The next track is from an unknown group called G-Spot-Geez, and it’s called “Money, Power & Women.” Now it’s obvious that the song title was taken from a particular line from the movie “Scarface,” however the song has a smooth beat and the rappers from this group actually had some decent lyrics that weren’t braggadocious about getting money and power. I wonder what happened to this group after this came out. It doesn’t seem like they had done much after this. 4.5/5

And now for a total shift into something different. This album closes out with “All of Puerto Rico” from Miami drum and bass group Afro-Rican. This song is kind of the oddball of this album, but it’s not a bad track by any means. It just felt like a dramatic shift considering the other 10 tracks were of a certain context, even though they varied in styles. It’s a decent dance track, though. 3/5

Overall, this was a good soundtrack album. I found this at a record store in 2010 for a rather cheap price. It’s a good mix of West Coast rap with a touch of East Coast and South, and a decent dance track to cap the album off. I highly recommend you track this down.

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Hoo-Bangin’
  2. Head Up
  3. Hood Life
  4. Miami Life
  5. Danger
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