Let’s take a trip through history real quick. Blaxploitation films ruled the 70’s….at least to the urban crowd since there really wasn’t an outlet at that time. Foxy Brown, The Mack, Super Dude, Shaft among others were movies that featured characters that looked just like us. These films came along with soundtracks that featured the most popular musical artists at that time. Roy Ayers, Willie Hutch and Curtis Mayfield ruled their music scene and were perfect accompaniments to those movies.
Spike Lee had the 80’s in his own personal camel clutch. The 90’s bought a new crop of black films created by up and coming directors that grabbed the baton from Spike. One of the first was 1992’s Juice which featured the acting debut of the immortal Tupac Shakur. Now I can spend all evening talking about Juice, but The Almighty himself blessed us with the soundtrack a few weeks before the movie dropped on the last day of 1991; December 31st.
The same magic the Blaxploitation soundtracks added to the films continued in the 90’s. The Juice Soundtrack is without a shadow of a doubt the best soundtrack of that decade. We saw our favorite MC’s from the 80’s step into a new millennium and offer some of their best work. The gods Eric B and Rakim ripped apart “Know The Ledge” Over a fast tempo beat cooked up by the legendary Bomb Squad, Rakim effortless rhymes like a professional. Eric B provided the standard scratches on the hook and the schizophrenic piccolo throughout is a nice touch. This song will make you Macho Man elbow drop an infant with the quicks.
Another top 10 MC ever, Big Daddy Kane blessed us with film’s opener, “Nuff Respect” Another fast paced concoction courtesy of The Bomb Squad featured Kane rhyming as fast as Usain Bolt. This song made you forget all about that biscuit soft Prince of Darkness album released just a few months prior. No love for ladies, just ruff rhymes. Long Live the Kane. The legendary Salt N Pepa offered some advice to the ladies on “He’s Gamin On Ya”.
EPMD jumped on the Marvin Gaye sampled “It’s Goin Down” which was so funky, it could have been added to their mighty Business as Usual album. And who didn’t get excited when they showed up in the movie. Too Short shows range on the Ant Banks produced “So You Want to Be a Gangster”. Instead of dealing with the ladies, he offers his warning for cats that want to be gangsters. This was a solid joint and is ennobled forever as it landed on the West Coast Classic radio station on Grand Theft Auto 5 which no doubt got him some new fans.
Eric B. & Rakim – Juice (Know The Ledge)
Big Daddy Kane – Nuff Respect
Naughty By Nature – Uptown Anthem
Grateful that our 80’s heroes still had skills, we were able to enjoy the new artists showcased on this masterpiece. One of the biggest singles on the album was Naughty By Nature‘s, “Uptown Anthem”. The first few seconds of the song feature a few majestic chords. Then Kay Gee drops a dark yet swift creation for Treach to devour like Precious and the chicken bucket. Vin even had a verse and the Tupac cameo in the video just give you chills.
Pooh Man was another newer rapper and sounded eerily close to Too Short on the hip hop trinity, “Sex, Money and Murder”. He was actually Too Shorts protégé and also a part of Dangerous Music at the time. Even if you weren’t feeling this poor mans Too Short, you couldn’t help but groove to the second Ant Bank’s production of the evening. Cypress Hill unleashed their psycho tendencies on “Shoot Em Up”. This came just a few months after their debut and kept us craving for more of blunted trio.
Teddy Riley & Tammy Lucas “Is It Good To You”
This album aint all hip hop though. New Jack was basically a hybrid of hip hop and R&B and was spearheaded in the late 80s by the maestro, Teddy Riley. “Is It Good to You” is a Teddy Riley creation and featured the vocals of Tammy Lucas. This is the epitome of an early 90’s jam.
Aaron Hall – Don’t Be Afraid
This continues with Aaron Hall’s powerful “Don’t Be Afraid”. The strong bassline with the melodic piano chords will ensure your head stays bobbing for days. This song stayed on repeat for years and also found its way on a radio station on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Rahiem – Does Your Man Know About Me
We were even treated to couple hidden gems. Newcomer Rahiem added the lovely “Does Your Man Know About Me”. He sings for most of this, but also adds a few bars. This sounded dope over the R& B instrumental. The piano solo throughout is quite celestial and something my mother would be proud of. I will admit, this song was forgotten for many years. It was toward the end of the album and hard to get through all that heat without rewinding. But when you eventually landed here, you weren’t disappointed.
Brand New Heavies & N’Dea Davenport – People Get Ready
As if the soundtrack didn’t offer enough variety, the album ends on a fantastic note. The Funk loving and live band playing Brand New Heavies, invited the awesome vocalist N’Dea Davenport to join their cipher. As a kid, i passed on this one, but as I matured, this easily made my playlist.
This soundtrack was bangin. Stellar production, 80’s rappers in their prime, the next wave of 90’s rappers showing fresh styles, New Jack Swing in full force and a funk/acid jazz band all contribute this experience. To quote the Son Of Bazerk’s contribution to this soundtrack “What Could Be Better Bitch“?
The time machine is complete. Let’s head back to 1991.
Juice Movie Soundtrack Turns 25 Years Old