This may come to a surprise to some, but on the rare occasion I do completely forget about song. Such was the case while I was browsing Popeaters’s list of Hip Hop’s Most Unlikely Collaborations I spotted a lost gen I long forgot about, Fallin’ by De la Soul and Teenage Fanclub. And there is a reason I forgot about it, despite playing out the song in my youth, when I scanned my iTunes library it was nowhere to be found. Then my copy of the Judgment Night Soundtrack managed to not be in my primary or secondary CD collections but buried in a box that probably hasn’t been opened since I graduated college. Popping th album into my computer to be ripped, it is surprising how much the album still stands up with most of the songs finally making their way onto my iPod.
Since it slipped my mind, here is a little reminder far those that can’t remember themselves. Judgment Night is was a movie in released in 1993 featuring Emilio Estevez (in between Might Ducks movies), Cuba Gooding Jr. (fresh off A Few Good Men), Stephan Dorff (what happened to this guy, he used to be the next big thing but the most memorable thing he did last decade was appear in a Britney Spears video), and Jeremy Piven (a year away from PCU) as friends who get lost in gang territory and witness a murder, The big catch being it was an white Irish gang (juxtaposed against a black antagonist) led by Denis Leary (in his first big role that was launched by his MTV commercials) who want to kill off the loose ends. Needless to say, I doubt the movie has held up as good as the soundtrack.
With all the crappy rap-metal hybrids that popped up in the late nineties, it may be easy to forget how revolutionary the Judgment Night Soundtrack was. Rage Against the Machine was still a buzz band back in 1993 and other genre mashing was few and far in-between. But the album brought together some of the best rappers of the era and had their music backed by their hard rock counterpoints.
To get an idea of what the album was all about, there is nothing better than the opener which joined the forces of Helmet and House of Pain (Everlast appeared in the movie as a Leary lackey) where they trade verses between sung and rapped, managing to sound both like one of their own songs individually for Just Another Victim. Then Ice-T, who had just released his own rap-metal album with Body Count, joined up with thrash legends Slayer on Disorder. And in an only in the nineties would we have groups like Faith No More and the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. (who really need to appear in a Where Are They Now segment) and here they are on the same track, Another Body Murdered. The Onyx and Biohazard like their collaboration on Judgment Night they even teamed later on a remix of Slam.
But it was all about hard rock. The stand out track on the album was between backpack rapper De la Soul and British alternative rockers Teenage Fanclub and even went the extra mile by sampling Tom Petty for Fallin’. And of course Cypress Hill could get mellow on a track by Sonic Hill for the not so subtle I Love You Mary Jane. Cypress Hill was the only group on the disk with two songs but their song with Pearl Jam was kind of a dud considering they were the two biggest acts in their genre at the time.
Weirdest combination had to go to booty king at the time Sir Mix-a-Lot getting down and dirty with fellow Seattlians Mudhoney Freak Momma. Another standout pairing was Missing Lionk by Dinosaur Jr. providing a funky bass line for De the Funky Homosapien who is no stranger to the rock world by working Gorillaz. Sure bands like Limp Bizkit came along and ruined the rap-rock genre, but bands and rappers on Judgment Night show that it can be done right and is why it is this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.