Various Artists : The Wackness—Music From the Motion Picture

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Whenever summertime rolls around, a few things are inevitable. The first is hip-hop. I listen to hip-hop year round, mind you, and some albums, like Liquid Swords for instance, still seem better suited to winter. Yet when the sun beats down and the beads of sweat start to trickle, only a chill beat will do. The other inevitable factor during the summer is spending a fair amount of time cooling off in a movie theater. Living in Southern California, I’m used to sunshine year round, and I’m well aware that Phoenix and Jacksonville are both about 20 degrees hotter right now, but when it’s hot, it’s still pretty unpleasant, and air conditioning and Junior Mints are the only prescription for what ails.

Now, combining hip-hop and summertime cinema is an even better idea, and Jonathan Levine’s The Wackness is just the vehicle for that combo, setting its tale of a teenage drug dealer in 1994 against a backdrop of classic hip-hop tunes. The film isn’t actually being released until late August, but the soundtrack’s release date is significantly earlier, giving those jonesing for a great hip-hop compilation the opportunity to get their summer mix on.

From The Notorious B.I.G. to The Wu-Tang Clan, the music from The Wackness represents a prime selection of hip-hop and R&B from the early ’90s. Every track here is good to essential, which is a rare occurrence in movie soundtracks of late. More importantly, it puts you in New York in the early ’90s, especially during the hot summer months. Some of these tracks are timeless: “The What” by Biggie, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime,” Nas’ “The World Is Yours” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” A few tracks offer a ‘damn, haven’t heard that in a long time’ kind of thrill, namely Craig Mack’s “Flava In Your Ear,” Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” and R. Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind.” And then of course there’s Raekwon and Wu-Tang, of whom it’s merely a given that their tracks would be classics.

Though it’s extremely rare to find a soundtrack of all new material in 2008, and The Wackness is not an exception, it’s still refreshing to see a compilation that creates as vivid a setting as a film’s visuals. The Wackness puts you on the corner in front of a bodega, while the city zooms by under a merciless sun. This is one fresh nostalgia trip, whether you were listening to these tracks in your dorm room, your friend’s ride or at a house party, these are 13 tracks that everyone can groove to.

Similar Albums:

Various Artists – America Is Dying Slowly

Various Artists – The Show

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Download at A Tribe Called Quest - The Wackness (Music from the Motion Picture Deluxe Version)

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