Belly (Soundtrack Spotlight) 1998: Hype Williams made his directorial debut in 1998 with the movie Belly. DMX & Nas teamed up as costars for the film, but it also had a handful of hip-hop stars throughout the film. Method Man & T-Boz play big roles while others like Ghostface Killah, Sean Paul & AZ drop in for a quick line or two. Tyrin Turner who played a huge role in Menace II Society also stars in the NY based movie. Tommy “Bundy” Dunds played by DMX & his best friend/ associate Sincere “Sin” is played by Nas. The 2 start off robbing a bank which then leads to them pushing a new form of heroin. They start to drift apart as Nas is trying to get out of the game by moving away with his girlfriend T-Boz and their young daughter. Meanwhile DMX is looking to increase his status with a life of crime. DMX ends up behind bars and is approached by federal agents who give him instructions on assassinating a black Muslim leader. Nas is now doing everything he can to carry out his plans of moving his family safely to Africa, but before he can he gets shot in the leg and kills 2 men in self defense. In the end The Muslim leader tells a touching speech of hope and X is unable to go through with the assassination. Nas and family manage to escape all the madness and finally make it to Africa to start their lives over. Even though the rest of the world rated the movie poorly, I feel like it was a good movie overall in the hip-hop community, and I can say that I have watched it over a dozen times myself.
Although the movie didn’t receive the best ratings the soundtrack was a different story. Released November 3rd 1998 via Def Jam Records it peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums. Assisting in the production of the soundtrack was Poke & Tone, Puffy, R. Kelly, Irv Gotti, Dj Premier, Guru, Swizz Beatz & Hype Williams.
The second track “Devil’s Pie” by D’Angelo was composed by himself along side DJ Premier. Premo actually had made the track for Canibus who choose to pass on it, so it ended up with D’Angelo who turned it into a hit. Samples used to make the song include Teddy Pendergrass’s 1977 jam “And If I Had” along with Fat Joe’s “Success” & “Interlude” by Raekwon. Next up is one of the hottest tracks “Grand Finale” which features DMX, Method Man, Nas & Ja Rule. It made it to #63 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & #18 on the Hot Rap Singles.
DMX feat. Sean Paul & Mr. Vegas have one of the top jams with “Top Shotter”. One of those hooks that you’re not quite sure what the heck they are saying, but it still doesn’t stop you from belting out your best guess at it (case & point -Snow “Informer”).
Ja Rule throws down on “Story to tell” and while I am not the biggest Rule fan this is one of his better songs. “Crew Love” featuring Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel & Memphis Bleek is a classic State Property kinda jam. “Movin’ Out (Movin’ On University Mix) is a banger by Mya featuring Raekwon & Noreaga which is a remix to her original version with Silkk The Shocker.
Noreaga’s classic song “Sometimes” features Maze and tells a tale of what Nore feels like doing that day, sometimes he wants to cry and lay and sometimes he wants to get drunk all god damn day. Gang Starr thrown down “The Militia II (Remix)” featuring Rakim & WC. The Militia is a song that is extremely hard to out due so this remix is tame in comparison but still a good song with a Premo beat that is evident from the first few seconds of the song. Wu Tang gets in on the action with “Windpipe” featuring RZA, Ghostface Killah and an ODB hook which will grabs you from the jump.
Sauce Money snuck in on “Pre-Game” which brings Jay-Z back for some more bars. The hottest track on the soundtrack comes courtesy of The Lox and Made Men called “Tommy’s Theme”
Other notable tracks include “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” a deep track sung by Jerome, “What About” sung by Sparkle, “Two Sides” by Hot Totti AKA Vita, “We All Can Get It On” by Drag-On, “Some Nigga” by Half A Mil & Bravehearts with “I Wanna Live”. All in all the Belly soundtrack is a timeless album with a handful of tracks that can still be pumped nowadays and some of the new music out there can’t hold a flame to it. Back in 2006 DMZ talked about a sequel in the works called “Beast” but there has been no mention of it since then and there actually is a movie called Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club which starred The Game back in 2006 which doesn’t even come close to the original.