Rhyme & Reason (Soundtrack Spotlight) 1997 – Back In The Day Buffet – Hip hop and rap musicians alike were enjoying success and acclaim in 1997 but many outside of the genre did not understand the music and the artists that created it. The documentary film by Peter Spirer was brought about by the hip hop industries rise to a multi billion dollar business and the alienation and misconception from the main stream media that continued to persist despite the success. Peter set out to chronicle the rise of rap by speaking directly to the artists themselves. Their experiences bringing a visceral story line to life but by doing so in the first person allowing artists like Ice-T and KRS-One to make their story all the more real and profound. The documentary works in various ways and allows for many at the time their first real view at the lives of artists like Wu-Tang Clan, KRS-One, and Ice-T. Ultimately in the end, you are left with wishing for more of the one on one interviews and less of the montages. The documentary works best when we are listening to Ice-T or Chuck D bringing us insight on the origins or rap. For any fan of hip hop its a must see at least once, and to look back on the movie with the hind sight of twenty years, I miss those times in hip-hop, most dearly.
The Soundtrack Showcases Many Of The Artists From The Film
The soundtrack for the movie (released January 14, 1997) featured many of the same artists that we saw in the film and luckily for us, they were many of the elite artists from the 90’s rap scene. The album covered everything from west coast rap (Mack 10 and Tha Dogg Pound – “Nothin’ But The Cavi Hit”) to east coat (KRS-One – “Bring It Back”) to down south (8Ball & MJG – “Reason For Rhyme”) and even mid-west (Crucial Conflict – “Bogus Mayn”). The album went to number 16 on the Billboard Top 200 and number 1 on the Top R7B/Hip-Hop Albums, as well as being certified gold within three months of it’s release.
The album starts with “Nothin’ But The Cavi Hit” – (Mack 10 and Tha Dogg Pound) a classic west coast jam featuring an early match up of Mack 10 and Kurupt and Daz of Tha Dogg Pound. The Daz Dillinger produced beat thumps and all three artists come hard on the breakout single from the album which was the first top 40 single for Mack 10 and the only one for Tha Dogg Pound.
“Wild Hot” – (Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest) is the second track which has a definite Native Tongues feel having been produced by both Busta and Q-Tip. While not the greatest from the artists it is still a listenable track and fits in well on the soundtrack.
The third song “Reason For Rhyme” – (8Ball & MJG) produced by Crazy C is my favorite song on the soundtrack and remains one of my favorites from any artist to this day. This song captures the essence of what the film was looking for and does a good job in showing us why 8Ball and MJG chose to be rappers and the reason they write what they do. This is a song any young hip hop artist should listen to, it is a lesson on how to be successful and respect the craft.
“Uni-4-Orm” – (Ras Kass, Heltah Skeltah, and CanIBus) produced by Fabian Hamilton is an absolute killer track and one of the best on the soundtrack. Featuring an early pairing of CanIBus and Ras Kass, Rock and Sean Price have to bring everything they got to compete with the lyricism. Amazingly all four artists drop quotable verses and this song must make anyones all time list when it comes to tracks with multiple artists.
Crucial Conflict comes out swinging with “Bogus Mayn” – (Crucial Conflict) a Wildstyle produced track that showcase the groups fast paced rhymes similar to fellow Chicago rap artist Twista. For anyone that is a fan of the group this is a must have classic.
“Every Year” – (E-40) is your typical E-40 track, produced by E-40 and Studio Ton, where 40 Water spits his usual rambling sarcasm filled rhymes over a laid back west coast beat. E-40 does bring some insight and does spit about life as a black man as a hip hop artist. I like E’s style and enjoy his songs but this wasn’t anything special from the Oakland rapper.
The seventh track is the classic “Tragedy” – (RZA) a Truemaster produced track which had us all salivating for the next Wu-Tang album when RZA tells us that its coming in Feb ’97. Amazingly enough it did arrive in ’97 just not on time; however, this track was a great way to wet our appetite. RZA is a very underrated MC and on this track he spits some straight fire just killing the beat and making this one of the best RZA features that remains to this day.
“Represent” – (MC Eiht) is a self produced track that is pretty run of the mill MC Eiht. I love MC Eiht and CMW but there is nothing really special about this track. It’s still good considering, but compared to the other tracks on the album it doesn’t stand out.
“Niggaz Don’t Want It” – (Lost Boyz) produced by Big Dex has Mr. Cheeks and Freaky Tah throwing down some great verses over what is an underwhelming beat. I like the song because it is Lost Boyz but not amongst the best from the group.
“Bring It Back” – (KRS-One) is classic KRS speaking his usual knowledge of hip hop and its history over a self produced beat. It’s a solid KRS-One track and fits well with the documentary the soundtrack is based on.
“Is There Heaven 4 A Gangsta?” – (Master P) produced by Beats By The Pound is typical Master P, whom I must admit I never was a fan of. While not a lyrical MC, this is one of the few Master P songs I like. The theme of the song allows Master P to keep it simple and right to the point and the song highlights one of the best parts of No Limit Records – Beats By The Pound. The No Limit house production crew, Beats By The Pound, made up of Craig B, Moe B Dick, KLC, and Odell. Today known as The Medicine Men, and not affiliated with the record label any more, their production is responsible for multiplatinum albums. While overlooked by some, they make some amazing beats and this track is one of them.
“Liquor Store Run” – (Volume 10) is a West Coast thumper from the Heavyweight Crew rapper. The Freestyle Fellowship affiliate raps over a Dr Dre inspired beat produced by Russel Bates and Tony Isaacs. It’s a rare track from the MC and does highlight his lyrical skills which is a must have for any west coast fan.
“The Way It Iz” – (Guru, KaiBee, and Lil’ Dap) is the reason I originally bought the album way back when it came out. I heard this song and it just stuck with me, I’m sure it was the urgency in Guru’s voice, but I bought the album and listened to this song over and over. It has since moved down the list of favorite songs from the soundtrack but this is one of those songs that you need only hear once to know you’ll be listening to it again and again. The Guru produced beat has a dark lonesomeness to it that Lil Dap, KaiBee and Guru dissect perfectly, leaving little left but the hook repeating in your head over and over again.
“Business First” – (Nyoo and DeCoca) produced by Blac Earl is one of the quiet bangers on the album. The only major release from the group the songs rips hard and the duo kills it with a smooth hook. Leaves me wondering why we didn’t get more from the group because this was one of the songs you liked coming on.
“No Identity” – (Delinquent Habits) produced by O.G. Style show the latin hip hop group at the typical norm with a hardcore rap approach over an amped up beat. The LA based group has been doing it for a long time and this is one of their better singles.
One Of The Best Soundtracks Hip Hop Has Put Forth?
I absolutely love this album. Look at the amount of hip hop artists on the album, so many of them I would consider to be elite: 8Ball, Guru, RZA, Heltah Skeltah, Ras Kass, CanIBus, Lost Boyz, E-40, Kurupt, KRS-One, and Q-Tip. Combined with the mix of different rap genres covering all parts of the country, this has to be one of the most successful hip hop soundtracks. Every track on the album stands up well to the test of time, and the best songs “Uni-4-Orm”, “Reason For Rhyme”, “The Way It Iz” stay in my playlist at all times even to this day. Few soundtracks can match the all star cast featured but few can boast that the majority of the artists contributed memorable tracks that keep this at the top of any one’s list for “Best Hip Hop Soundtracks”. The best part of all is the documentary is still a film we all can watch and see a moment in time captured with our favorite storytellers reliving the experiences and it’s something we all enjoy watching. Check out the documentary if you’ve never had a chance and if you’ve forgotten about this album, it’s time to put it back in to rotation, you won’t be disappointed.
Rhyme & Reason (Soundtrack Spotlight) 1997 – Back In The Day Buffet