Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Phlip
Who remembers when Movie Soundtracks didn’t suck? Me either.
By some odd phenomenon, I had both the ‘Belly’ and ‘The Show’ soundtracks on my iPod after synching on Sunday for Monday’s workday. “Cool, no problem! These are two of the best hip hop movie soundtracks,” I thought to myself, meaning I would be able to put them on and let them ride cover-to-cover when they came up.
Perhaps it was willful ignorance; perhaps it was creating something that just was not to be when listening to them the first time through, but movie soundtracks do NOT wear as well as a feature album. Sure, for what we remember about them – songs that either introduce, make or confirm someone’s star status – we love and will always remember them. The problem is that for every “Devil’s Pie,” we will have to sit through some insufferable version of “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In The Summer” or worse yet, a Drag-On song. For every “How High” or live performance of “Me and my Bitch,” we must make it through a song by someone named “Isaac 2 Isaac” or some of the laziest songs by names we knew well at the time.
I invite you to show me ANY soundtrack that has not checked in at 70+ minutes, be it hip hop or not. It almost feels like labels (Def Jam carried both of the ones that led to this post, by the way) will take on a movie soundtrack as a means of keeping artists whose albums will forever remain on the “coming soon” list quiet by putting them in one song that no one will admit to disliking on an album guaranteed to go at least gold, based solely on the success of the movie it came with.
You know that moment where someone has managed to make themselves angry by simply going through with something they were well aware they were doing? I am pretty sure that I have managed to do that to myself by putting my iPod in my pocket for the duration of this soundtrack instead of on the desk where I would have easy access to the Fast Forward button.
What is sadder is that while writing this, I have looked through the list of movie soundtracks that I remember enjoying to test whether I would be willing to attempt stomaching them again as my 33rd birthday approaches in a little under 2 weeks, and I came up with three… THREE.
•The Spook who Sat By the Door
Notice the common threads between those? (1) each one serves as a full-length album by one person – Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Herbie Hancock respectively – and (2) none are hip hop.
This is not shots fired in on hip hop at large, so much as it is me having taken THIS long to notice how soundtracks are (or at least seemed to be) one of those hard-to-botch mediums that were shown as such until hip hop decided to get involved. An ever-eager audience waits in the wings to declare something as “classic” without full, fair or objective assessment of the project in total. In so much, we have movie soundtracks in hip hop that are touted as “classic” despite containing a full third of an album of wholly forgettable material.