October 26, 2010

My Gut Reaction: Various Artists - Stomp The Yard: Homecoming (Soundtrack) (October 26, 2010)

Occasionally, reviewing albums that are in my wheelhouse becomes boring, so I welcome opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone, especially when publicists are willing to send me stuff for free.  That would pretty much be the main reason why you're reading about the soundtrack to Stomp The Yard: Homecoming instead of, say, that Big Boi album that I have yet to listen to in its entirety.

The original Stomp The Yard, which I never actually watched, is apparently about a guy who pledges a fraternity at a fictional Black college (possibly the same one used in Drumline), and the stomping of the yard that ensues during the initiation process.  Or something.  As far as I know, Stomp The Yard is the autobiography of Savion Glover, I'm that out of the loop.  Stomp The Yard: Homecoming, the direct-to-DVD sequel, is possibly more of the same, except with a slightly lower budget.

The original flick starred the likes of Columbus Short (a guy who my brother-in-law is convinced will be a big name in Hollywood, as long as he stays away from filming armored truck movies with Matt Dillon), Meagan Good, Ne-Yo, and convicted woman-hater Chris Brown.  The sequel, however, features a cast full of no-name actors and stompers.  

Conversely, the soundtrack to the first movie featured ringers such as E-40, Public Enemy (huh?), Cut Chemist, Pitbull, The Roots, and Ghostface Killah, all of whom submitted previously released songs in an effort to make the soundtrack sound more successful and cohesive than it had any right to.  In keeping with the project's direct-to-DVD roots, Stomp The Yard: Homecoming's soundtrack features more unknown artists and D-list players, although the occasional B-list artist makes an appearance (Columbus Short makes a cameo in the sequel, so this was inadvertently done in the spirit of the movie).

I know what you two are thinking: why would this be the first soundtrack that HHID would choose to cover after an extremely long hiatus? (I think the last soundtrack I tackled myself was for Bulworth.)  I like a challenge, and I was looking to listen to something new and different.  It helps that, having never seen either movie (the second one is already available, although the soundtrack hits Interweb shelves today), I had absolutely zero expectations for what I was about to hear.

So let's see what I got myself into.

1. DON'T GET CAUGHT SLIPPIN (ACE HOOD)
Def Jam artist Ace Hood, one of the bigger names on Stomp The Yard: Homecoming (relatively speaking), spends nearly four minutes trying to justify his deviant actions by blaming the slipping of the victims, hence the title of this song. This Inkredibles beat isn't horrible for what it is: mainstream piffle ostensibly designed to translate into a club theme (or an outright yard stomping), but Ace pulls both a joker and a coupon for one dollar off his next purchase of Bicycle playing cards form the deck, somehow managing to say less than nothing with his verses. That's right, this track would have contained a better Ace Hood performance had he remained completely silent. Oh well. The version of Stomp The Yard: Homecoming I'm listening to is a promotional clean copy (the retail is uncensored, from what I understand), which only hurts Ace even more: the song I just listened to contained more dropped audio than a showing of Goodfellas on AMC. For those of you who care about this sort of thing, this is far from an original contribution: this song first appeared on Hood's second album Ruthless.

2. TIME TO GET (GET COOL)
Get Cool is a rather foolish rap moniker, don't you think? It implies that the artist is either trying to become cool through the sheer will of his performance, of that the listener will become much more popular after having listened to some repetitive threats set to a club beat. While neither option is ever going to actually happen, I'm happy to report that “Time To Get” isn't entirely horrible, even though its very title is an incomplete thought. The instrumental (which I assume is from the artist himself, since he has produced for David Banner in the past and even landed his own song on the soundtrack to this project's thematic brother from another mother, Step Up 3D) isn't bad, and at least Get Cool sounds okay enough over it. He could be one of Timbaland's shitty rap apprentices (see: D.O.E., Sebastian, Magoo) if he plays his cards right. This could have been a lot worse.

3. BOUNCE (JOHN-JOHN)
Give this beat to one of the more popular Southern artists of today, and they would turn it into a hit. (Not a substantial one, but something that could have at least a but of an impact in the club and on radio mix shows.) Give it to John-John, though, and what you get is an interesting failure. The instrumental isn't bad at all: it serves its purpose, at least. But for a song on which the artist is attempting to command the listener to perform the titular action, it's a curious novelty. John-John attempts to add some depth via some clever lyricism, rhyming words together that have no business being told to do so (such as counselors and lobsters), which quickly turns this overlong exercise into a laugh riot. Oh well, at least the beat was decent.

4. EVIL (JASPER SAWYER)
This R&B track isn't bad, although it sounds just a bit too much like a Mark Ronson production for it to sound anywhere near original. Jasper Sawyer has a decent voice, though, and he might be able to swing a hit song during his career if he aligns himself with the right people (hey, it worked for Bruno Mars). This was an enjoyable trifle that was poorly sequenced between two random club joints.

5. WE GOT 'EM (MR. ROBOTIC)
Anyone who almost names himself after a Styx song can't be taken seriously as a rapper.

6. HERE TO PARTY (CLASSIC)
Classic sounds like a guy who impersonated T.I. at parties, or at least he'd like to. Unlike T.I., who occasionally slips some social commentary into his declarations of mic and fiscal dominance, this guy only wants to party, and does so over the course of two verses. In hip hop, you can't get more generic than with the party song: our chosen genre was built on feel-good party jams. But “Here To Party” misses the mark. Only the instrumental, which takes a semi-experimental left turn toward the end, held my interest.

7. COLLEGE CHICKS (G-SIDE)
Look, I love college girls as much as the next straight guy, but this Auto-Tuned exercise in overkill does its best to strip away all of their appeal, so much so that you'll be left looking at daytime hookers the next time you're at a twenty-four hour diner and wondering, “What if?” The track hides an afterthought of a beat and an overt reliance on hip hop clich├ęs. However, G-Side goes out of their way to encourage higher education, only wanting to fuck girls who “shake [their] ass but they still go to class in the morning”, which is all you can hope for when you listen to drivel like this.

8. GET YO MONEY UP (SHORT DAWG)
Short Dawg, a rapper whose name confuses me because it's also frequently used as a nickname for Too $hort, sounds too much like Lil' Wayne for comfort. It turns out that this comparison makes sense: Shorty has worked alongside Weezy and his Young Money crew extensively. On this solo effort, Mr. Dawg stresses the importance of bragging about how much cash you carry on you at all times, a tactic that only works for him (and not anybody with even a modicum of common sense) because he's never too far away from his weapon, just in case someone overhears his boasts and decides that he would like to relieve him of said cash. It always makes me laugh when a no-name rapper tries to discuss his financial matters with the audience, as if that's a valid way to grow your fan base, since the listener is typically in an opposing situation. So yeah, this song was boring.

9. NERVOUS (JOHN FORTE)
If you're a longtime reader of the blog, then your reaction to this song will be the same as mine was when I first received the e-mail: “John Forte? What the fuck?!” And you would be absolutely correct: there is absolutely no reason for a Grammy Award-winning artist (and former informal fourth member of the Fugees) to appear within five hundred yards of Stomp The Yard: Homecoming. But Forte isn't exactly burning up the charts after serving his prison sentence for possession with intention to distribute, so this is what we get. I miss the 1980s sound that former friend (I'm just assuming at this point) Wyclef Jean provided for him on his debut, Poly-Sci, but John comes off as rejuvenated over this simple drum-and-guitar loop, addressing his arrest and reflecting on his life, sounding as good as he always has. This has got to be the best song on Stomp The Yard: Homecoming, even though I can't imagine how this would fit anywhere within the film itself. (“Nervous” is also featured on Forte's comeback EP, StyleFREE.)

10. THIRD DEGREE (RAE FEAT. BASKO & NOMADIK)
This sounds like a straight-to-DVD impersonation of a Kidz In The Hall song, but I don't mean that in a bad way: I found this song quite entertaining, as the artists involved all at least sound like they're enjoying themselves. The scratching at the end was a nice touch, too. But the real reason this song works is because of the party-inspired beat which, given the proper push, could actually make waves within the music industry of my mind.

11. ROCK YO BODY (CLOUT CARTEL)
Meh.

12. I'M GROWN (GET COOL)
Get Cool makes an encore appearance in an effort to convince listeners that he could be the second coming of Tim Mosely, but this song doesn't really make his case, since Timbaland has actual talent, even if he is better known for squandering it these days. The instrumental sounds like it was purchased in bulk at Costco, and the lyrics are mostly insipid: surely there are people that go to clubs for more than just the typical materialistic reasons. This song doesn't deserve your time nor your patience.

13. TO THE TOP (B DOUBLE E)
If the guy's name is B Double E, wouldn't that make his rap moniker Bee? Why couldn't he just use that? At least that would set him apart from his like-minded peers. “To The Top” may appeal to T.I. fans more so than anyone else, but it actually isn't that bad. It's better than some of these artists on the radio, anyway. (*cough* Gucci Mane *cough*)

14. STOMP SCORE SUITE (TODD BOZUNG & PETER PLATH)
The last song on Stomp The Yard: Homecoming is a collection of instrumentals from Todd Bozung and Peter Plath that comprise the score of the film itself. Each individual piece is short enough to digest without problems, even if none of them sound particularly memorable. With some more opportunities to work, however, they might do alright for themselves.

THE LAST WORD: Stomp The Yard: Homecoming isn't really the type of soundtrack that I would ever seek out on my own, so the surprising part of this write-up is that there were a toddler's handful of tracks that were actually pretty good. It was kind of interesting to hear from a bunch or relative unknown who, under different circumstances, could actually have hit records (given the (sorry) state of hip hop today), so I'll give some credit: at least most of these guys don;t sound like they're blatantly stealing their ideas from their more famous counterparts. However, the majority of these tracks don't really prove that some of these guys deserve any further exposure beyond this soundtrack. As a whole, Stomp The Yard: Homecoming has some decent-enough moments, some of which may shock you with their entertainment value, but for the most part, this isn't something that I can wholeheartedly endorse. But you two probably already saw that coming when you read the title of today's post.  However, the original Stomp The Yard's soundtrack contains Ghostface Killah's "The Champ", and that song fucking rocks.

However, the label, Artists' Addiction (in conjunction with Sony), has been nice enough to allow you two to listen to the best track from Stomp The Yard: Homecoming without any further obligation. Click the link below to download John Forte's “Nervous”. Hurry: this link will expire in one week, after which you two are on your own.

John Forte - “Nervous” (Sorry, time's up!)

-Max

10 comments:

  1. you have been really scraping the bottom of the barrel over the last couple months

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  2. What a disappointment. I waited years for John Forte and Shyne to come home, now Shyne sounds like a developmentally impaired version of Lloyd Banks and Forte picks up a goddamn acoustic guitar.

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  3. Damn Max, for a blog thats called "Hip Hop isnt dead" you sure waste a lot of time on 'dead' Hip Hop recently... why not review John Fortes whole EP instead?

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  4. Is it me or does the front cover of this soundtrack look like an all black version of high school musical?

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  5. Dude, I'm not going tell you how to run your blog. But let me just throw a suggestion at you:

    Go to OHHLA.com, and look at the "Favorite Artists" section. Or even the "All Artists" Section. Scroll around, and look for someone of note you've barely reviewed, or not reviewed at all.

    Like, for example, 8Ball & MJG, Big Daddy Kane, Too Short, Rakim, Atmosphere, Common, KRS-One, UGK, WC, whatever.

    I'd even settle for you finishing Eminem, Nas and 2pac's discographies.

    I mean, really, dude. You've reviewed EVERY U-GOD SOLO ALBUM. You're reviewing 9th Prince, who has a fanbase of roughly eight Wu-Nerds. And now you're reviewing random soundtracks nobody gives a f*ck about. What are you trying to prove? You can do whatever you want? Great. We already knew that.

    Not to be bitchy, but come on, man. "Stomp The Yard?" What a waste of time. You haven't even scratched the surface of hip hop, and you act like you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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  6. Come on, you all know better. You can't automatically dismiss an album just because you don't think you'll like any of it. That's what I've learned after doing this for more than three years. This isn't a very good soundtrack, and it isn't something I would ever purchase (which I stated multiple times throughout the post), but you can't be afraid of trying new things just because you THINK you know the outcome. This soundtrack has John fucking Forte, for fuck's sake. Odds are, you two wouldn't have known that without reading this. This blog is about exploring different nooks and crannies when it comes to the new stuff, and sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't, but hopefully the writing is at least entertaining.

    FLX - if you're willing to buy me the Forte EP, I'll review it. It's impossible to come by around my way.

    Thanks for reading!

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  7. the 1994 street fighter movie soundtrack would be a nice return to form

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  8. Max, you know you can buy Forte's EP as a digital download from his homepage over amazon or itunes, right..? Thats what I did.

    PS: Giving stuff you normally wouldnt listen to a chance is alright and cool but maybe you d want to select something a bit more interesting then if you want people to be interested.

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  9. Can't be afraid to try new things. Wouldn't have ever listened to any Wu stuff had I not simply listened to Method Man's Tical and worked my way backward and forward through their catalog. Stomp The Yard 2 may not interest you, but I can guarantee that someone reading the post looked at it, read through the review, and discovered that it isn't entirely worthless, because it isn't: it just isn't very good, either.

    Hopefully, I'll expand on the whole "can't be afraid to try new things" in the new year. Read into that whatever you wish.

    No disposable income, not going to buy something blindly, have bills to pay, blah blah blah. Of course, I was just joking about you buying me a copy. I'm just saying that it will be a long while before that EP gets written up here.

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  10. how bout the place where hiphop and dancehall intersect? on some distant couusins ish, not necessarily that album but joints like bush babee's "Gravity" or anyone of Shinehead's earliest works?

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