July 22, 2007

Drink Coasters: The Show (The Soundtrack) (August 15, 1995)

The musical genre known as hip hop has never really garnered the full attention it deserved from Hollywood. True, there have been many films that use the lifestyle as a jump-off point to delve into other subjects, but the majority of movies and TV shows out there use and abuse hip hop to meet whatever the needs of the story may be. Not all rappers are prison-bound ex-gang members looking for a way out of that life, okay, Hollywood? Conversely, not every rapper is a closet poet with something important to say; this is evident when you listen to the radio for more than three minutes at at time.

In an attempt to show the world the true faces of hip hop culture, Russell Simmons gave us the documentary The Show, which featured damn near every mainstream rap artist in 1995. The film was not much of a box office success (unless you're Michael Moore, nobody will actually pay to see your documentary in a theater), but the accompanying soundtrack sold like hotcakes at a clearance sale. The Show (The Soundtrack) was released by arguably the number one hip hop label at the time, Def Jam, and showcased a number of rappers and rap groups that supposedly defined 1995.

Well, that's a load of horseshit.

The Show (The Soundtrack) is a bloated, 27-track affair with questionable standards as to who was important in hip hop at the time. I remember taking a glance at the back of the CD case when I saw it in stores, and I was excited by the sheer number of artists prominently featured on songs. Oh My God! Dr. Dre! Snoop! Slick Rick! Domino...okay, I didn't really care much about Domino. ("Ghetto Jam" is still a damn good song, though.) I quickly made my purchase, went home, unwrapped the plastic, and started listening, hoping to get a sense of what the film would be like (at this time, The Show hadn't opened in my city yet). I walked away from this experience knowing that the movie would be a failure.

Why is that, you ask? Well, for starters, the big names, for the most part, only contribute semi-significant quotes from the movie itself. Dr. Dre and Snoop had jack shit to do with this soundtrack. Secondly, the songs that actually exist can, in no possible way, qualify as a definition of 1995. Fucking Onyx, who hadn't had a hit song since "Slam", contributed their shit sandwich "Live!!!", which knocks all of your high expectations out of a sixth-story window. 2Pac's Easy Mo Bee-produced "My Block" fares much better, but then again, I have a soft spot for any Pac song that isn't about fucking Thug Life and all that bullshit. (Tupac Shakur was a classically trained actor, people! He wasn't a fucking thug until Suge brought him into that lifestyle!) The best song on here, "How High", even pissed me off (at first), as it's not the version promised in the video. Method Man and Redman started their very fruitful collaborative relationship with this Erick Sermon-produced semi-masterpiece, which sounds completely different from the video. (I wasn't appeased until I heard Redman's extended final verse, which was cut out of the radio version. Reggie raps the shit out of the track.) A Tribe Called Quest, or mainly Q-Tip, anyway, appears out of nowhere with "Glamour & Glitz", which is also decent.

There isn't anything else on this CD worth a listen. Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony purists will probably rip me a new one in the comments for saying that "Everyday Thang" is a weak throwaway track, but that's exactly what it is. Everything else on this album is Def Jam's blatant attempt to force-feed older Def Jam acts down our collective throats. LL Cool J, who was more of an actor than a rapper in 1995, embarrasses himself with his "Papa Luv It"; Jayo Felony is handed to us twice, on two consecutive songs, neither of which are memorable or even any good. Warren G's gives weed carriers The Dove Shack some shine (on "Summertime In The LBC", which isn't awful but doesn't fit into the sequencing), and even gives himself a song that isn't worth mentioning. Finally, the last real rap song here, "Me And My Bitch (Live From Philly)", finds The Notorious B.I.G. and fucking Sean Combs performing Biggie's song over an overused "Computer Love" sample, to awful effect; is this really the only song from Biggie they could procure? He didn't have any unreleased gems he could contribute? (Before anyone comments, I realize the point of "Me And My Bitch"'s inclusion was to create the effect of going to the live show. My answer to you is this: why that song?)

The Show (The Soundtrack) is a weak cash-in for a musical genre that needs all of the support it can get. (The other major rap documentary at the time, Rhyme & Reason, has a much better soundtrack.) It's not the worst album I've ever heard, but life is short, and your time would be better spent elsewhere.



  1. "murder dem" (i think thats the name, i can't remember) was my shit back in the day.

  2. This album isn't even good enough for drink coaster use! It should be used for picking up dog shit in central park!

  3. Just watched this doc and thought it was cool... hey max, why don't you start revieiwng hip hop films and books and shit?

  4. AnonymousMay 03, 2014

    First of all, Max,

    The Onyx song SHITS on anything that's not ATCQ nor Mef & Red. It's a worthy addition to those two's contributions.

    Secondly, I agree with the rest of your critique.

  5. This album was a good cash in because it actually sold 500,000 copies. But keep in mind it was the 90's the era when everyone was buying albums.