Week 14 Review

Eminem has never been afraid to share his many struggles with fatherhood in his lyrics so it seems appropriate to review the soundtrack to the 2002 movie, 8 Mile, just right after Father’s Day.       

8milecover

Artist: Various Artists {Eminem, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, D12, Jay-Z, Xzibit, Macy Gray, Nas, Boomkat, Rakim, Young Zee, Gang Starr}
Album: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile
Year: 2002
Genre: Hip-hop
Rating: 3.95/5

Worth Your Time? It’s not perfect but the who’s who of hip-hop helps hold it up to the height of worth hearing.

Twitter Review: 8 Mile soundtrack reminds you why Eminem rose to super-stardom in 1999 and includes a great collection of artists around him on this album.

 Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Eminem – Rabbit Run
  2. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  3. Gang Starr – Battle, 50 Cent – Wanksta (tie)

Things to Look For:

  • The Real PetermanWhile 8 Mile is not a biographical picture of Marshal Bruce Mathers III, it does share some similarities with Eminem’s life. This creates this blurring between Eminem and the character he played, Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr., on the songs which Eminem raps. Sometimes he’s rapping as B-Rabbit and other times he’s himself. In one particular line he raps “… it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer, this is my life” but in reality Phifer plays the character Future, who is based on his best friend, the late Proof. So much like the logic of Seinfeld’s The Muffin Tops episode, Marshal has his Phifer.
  • Who’s Who of Hip-Hop. Jay-Z’s 8 Miles and Runnin’ is entertaining as he picks apart those trying to take advantage of his success by claiming they were there from the start. Nas claims his crown in U Wanna Be Me with great lines such as “Pay me a half a million, I’ll consult your album and show you how to stay off my dick.” This track is actually aimed directly at his fellow trackmate Jay-Z. Rakim spits fierce fire in R.A.K.I.M. and there’s no doubt why Rakim is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential MC of all-time. Rakim was part of the golden era of hip-hop in the 80’s as he released several incredibly important albums with DJ Eric B. In Places To Go, 50 Cent delivers some textbook-perfect, laid-back flow that delighted me every time I heard it. Finally, Gang Starr brings some fantastic turntablism and old school boasting to the soundtrack with Battle. Sadly, Guru, Gang Starr’s MC, died while in a coma after a heart attack in 2010.
  • Eminem. While Eminem’s supporting cast certainly helps with the soundtrack, Eminem absolutely owns this album like he should. Lose Yourself is widely celebrated as one of Eminem’s best songs as it reached #1 on 24 charts worldwide, earned him numerous awards and was placed on many all-time best lists. Many of these awards and lists encompassed all genres instead of being hip-hop specific which really shows just how successful this song was. So why did I put Rabbit Run above it? It has no hook, compelling or otherwise. It has no driving guitar riff. Instead, it has just one long epic and intense delivery by Eminem from the perspective of Rabbit dealing with personal struggles of writing and life. It uses an aggressive back beat that slowly swallows up the listener but unexpectedly and abruptly stops. Then Eminem delivers the final line: “Rabbit, run” leaving the listener with a single haunting bell ring that fades out to end the album. It is without a doubt the best ending of I have ever heard for a soundtrack. And that is why I put it above Lose Yourself.
  • Slow Your Roll. While most of the album is incredibly aggressive to the point where I felt like I wanted to start something and throw down in the hallways of work as I listened to this album on repeat all week, there are two tracks that helped break up all the testosterone being pumped into my veins: Time of My Life by Macy Gray and Wasting My Time by Boomkat. For all you Orange is the New Black fans, one half of Boomkat is Taryn Manning who plays Pennsatucky. She also had a part in 8 Mile as well. Of the two, I prefer Wasting My Time but I think they are both good.

Low Points: Ellway ethay irstfay owlay ointpay isway ettypray easyway.
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The second point is pretty much the entire song, Love Me, which features the chorus of “I just wanna love ya, for the rest of my life I wanna hold you in the mornin, hold you through the night” by a female singer. This is surrounded with insults from the male rappers on the track like “I don’t love you bitch” and being preceded with the line “And all the bitches say…” which all this may have been tolerable if the verses in between weren’t as forgettable as they were. 50 Cent’s in particular is forever lost to time as it loaded with insignificant pop culture references that I don’t think anybody cares about 12 years later.

My final low point features Obie Trice’s Adrenaline Rush where Obie proceeds to rhyme the word muthafucka 10 times in a row. Now you would think that maybe he would have done something clever like rhyme the word before it in each of the lines but nope. So to me it comes off as a lazy 10 lines.

Anything Else: I was absolutely convinced that Eminem had sampled a classic rock song for Lose Yourself. It sounded so familiar. The most likely candidate for me was Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. But no. The song is completely original and samples nothing. In fact after I read a forum post on the analysis of the guitar riff I felt silly for even thinking it. Not the first time I was wrong about a song. And it won’t be the last.

Finally, there’s a sequel to this album: More Music from 8 Mile. Your first thought might be why would I want to listen to a bunch of tracks not good enough to be on the original soundtrack release? The answer is pretty simple. The second album only includes songs from the movie that were released in 1995 which is the year the movie took place in. I thought that was rather clever. I haven’t listened to it yet but it looks like a strong collection with songs from Wu-Tang, B.I.G. and 2Pac included.

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Week 11 Review

Seeing that Blended just opened on the 23rd, I could not have timed this week’s review any better. I’m reviewing the soundtrack to an earlier Sandler/Barrymore romantic comedy: 50 First Dates.       

Album: 50 First Dates: Love Songs from the Original Motion Picture
Year: 2004
Genre: Movie Soundtrack
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? It’s really enjoyable background music.

Twitter Review: Basically, the soundtrack is reggae/ska covers of new wave songs. It sounds like a great idea on a paper and it’s actually executed well too.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) by Wyclef Jean (original by Outfield)
  2. Drive by Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
  3. Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)

Things Not to Look For (cause they ain’t there):

  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The beautiful, heartwarming, tear-jerking, make you want to hug the person next to you as tight as you can and never let go Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley that plays at the end of the movie is not there. Iz died before his 40th birthday but I don’t think his music will ever be forgotten. He was incredibly respected in Hawaii with 10,000 people attending the funeral and the state flag being flown at half-staff.
  • The Beach Boys. Wouldn’t It Be Nice even though it was heavily featured in the movie including the hilarious cry-a-long by Adam Sandler is sadly not there.
  • Ula. Ula’s Luau Song isn’t even on it! I know you’re as disappointed and frustrated as me about that but they did include Forgetful Lucy at the end to help heal the deep wounds of an Ula-less album.

Low Points: There aren’t really any low points. And it doesn’t have any particular high points either because it is after all just a collection of pop songs from a movie. So I’m not saying the album is a masterpiece or anything despite my above average rating. And it’s not something you would listen to while doing nothing so you can really soak in the masterful attention to the tiniest of details. But maybe you’re cleaning up the kitchen on a Saturday morning or driving to the grocery store, then by all means queue it up on your smartphone and enjoy yourself. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the entire album.

Anything Else: It looks like every cover featured on the soundtrack was specifically created for the movie. So this is the only place you’re going to find these songs. It shows they put some effort into this and didn’t try to grab a bunch of pre-existing covers. I guess part of the reason I’m so impressed with this album is I’ve listened to countless cross genre compilation albums and most of them have been utter crap. It seems to me that the modus operandi is to get one or two good bands and then find a bunch of unknowns that work cheap to fill out the rest of the album and ship it out ASAP to try to make some money off poor suckers like me. I’ve been disappointed so many times. The songs covered were well-chosen and they had quite a few well-known artists participate. I’m ecstatic that I can even write that sentence.

There are a lot of people angry that this soundtrack failed to include The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and I believe they have every right to be mad (there’s some seriously pissed off people on Amazon) because it’s a completely reasonable expectation. But the fact that they actually pulled off a reggae goes new wave album that doesn’t suck more than makes up for it from my perspective.

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