Friday, July 19, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Judgment Night soundtrack

Forgotten Fridays is a weekly feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

I think the thing that annoyed me most about the whole rap metal movement of the late ‘90s was hearing report after report that this was the first generation of kids that were raised on both rock and rap. Apparently none of this “critics” ever heard of the Anthrax and Public Enemy team up for “Bring tha Noise” or Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 debut album. Hell, the first cassettes I ever bought with my very own money were Appetite for Destruction and He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. The album that best personifies the early ‘90s rap/rock hybrid was 1993’s Judgment Night soundtrack.

This album – the soundtrack for the Emilio Estevez and Denis Leary action movie – was revolutionary at the time for featuring rock groups teaming with rappers. Some of these songs worked insanely well, and some just fell flat. The worst of the batch is the Fatal and Therapy? song “Come and Die,” which is as bad as its title. I’m pretty sure Fred Durst had this track on endless repeat. One of the most promising tracks is also one of the most disappointing. House of Pain and Helmet team up for “Just Another Victim,” which sounds like a producer took a Helmet song and a House of Pain song and split each in the middle, adding some ‘90s rap sirens over the edit to make it seem whole. It’s too bad, because each half is great. The Faith No More and Boo-Ya Tribe song is single handedly saved by Mike Patton’s screaming and OHHHHHHs. The track from Living Colour and Run DMC sounds exactly like what you’d expect, but somehow not as good. Ice-T drops the rap for his team up with Slayer and instead goes full on Body Count for one of the best of the metal songs. Onyx and Biohazard take on the title track, and shockingly kill it. The unhinged madness of both bands is one of the most unlikely dream pairings.

Even though the late ‘90s were dominated by rap/metal, Judgment Night also offers the little heard combination of rap and alternative rock. Cypress Hill appears twice, pairing with Pearl Jam for “Real Thing” and Sonic Youth for “I Love You Mary Jane.” Each song is as different as both acts, with “Real Thing” more of a stadium pumper and “I Love You Mary Jane” as a laid back, quirky stoner song. It also has De La Soul teaming with Teenage Fan Club (perfect) and Mudhoney being fronted by Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot which is way more fun than it sounds. My favorite song, the bananas combo of Del the Funky Homosapien and Dinosaur Jr. “Missing Link,” is the direction I wish rap and rock would have merged. The late ‘90s would have been much more fun.

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