10 Black Movie Soundtracks We Love
What would a movie be without a soundtrack? Nowadays, that’s all you get–just a movie. A two hour or more piece of work with a score that sounds like elevator music or something made off a Casio keyboard at the last minute. And if there is a soundtrack, no one knows about it, or chances are, it’s as wack as it can be. But back in the day, soundtracks were almost as big as the movies themselves, selling millions and getting put on repeat in clunky old Walkmans. So we’re going to take a walk down memory lane! Maybe going through our 10 favorite soundtracks from some pretty awesome black films will make you buy the albums, or watch the movies again. Who am I kidding? Are you really buying albums anymore??? (proceeds to shake head…)
As if this movie wasn’t dope enough to have us longing to find true love in a dark, seedy poetry club, it also had us out spending our hard earned money on the soundtrack. With Hot smooth cuts like Maxwell’s “Sumthin’ Sumthin’: Mellosmoothe (Cut),” classic jazz cuts like “In a Sentimental Mood” and the lovably melodic “The Sweetest Thing” by Lauryn Hill & the Refugee Camp All-Stars, the soundtrack for Love Jones was that “ish.” On top of that, you also got an extra treat with included recordings of Darius’ poem, “Brother to the Night (A Blues for Nina),” and Nina’s poem, “I Am Looking at Music.” Did we mention Dione Farris’ “Hopeless” is on there? Classic…
Spike Lee has always been big on having the soundtracks, if not just the scores of his films be on point. Most of the jams you hear in his movies add some sense of drama to the scenes they fall in, or are used to perfectly describe the streets of New York City through song. The soundtrack for Jungle Fever, put together by Stevie Wonder was definitely one of his Lee’s best. It was playful, serious, Hot and sad all in one, and just as complex as the intertwining stories being played out in front of you. How ‘90s is “Fun Day”? How sad is the love-sick song “Make Sure You’re Sure”? Every song I think of from that album makes me gasp because it was soooo good!
The Best Man
I profess to my friends that I can always tell when The Best Man is coming on because of the intro: “It’s what you want right? It’s what you need right? Ha! Never fails. The soundtrack for this joint was a neo-soul listeners fantasy, with cuts from everyone from Lauryn Hill, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and Maxwell, with surprising appearances from Beyoncé, Faith Evans and Sporty Thievz. This was that ride to school/work CD, and the kind of CD with back to back to back jams that would have your walkman overheated. “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” “Let’s Not Play the Game.” “After All Is Said and Done.” Need I go on?
Your man’s favorite movie had a killer soundtrack. If seeing Nas doesn’t persuade you enough to check out the movie, than maybe the soundtrack will. A raw hip hop enthusiasts must have disk, there was a little bit of everything from every kind of lyricist available. And don’t forget about the reggae! DMX’s “Top Shotter” with Sean Paul & Mr. Vegas was a banger off the soundtrack, as well as Jigga’s “Crew Love” featuring Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek. There were even a few soulful moments, including an appearance on the soundtrack by D’Angelo with “Devil’s Pie.” LOVE IT!
Waiting to Exhale
Classic! To call the soundtrack for Waiting to Exhale anything less would be a complete slap in the face. Everybody that was anybody around the time of the Waiting to Exhale’s release (1995), and it helped because the soundtrack went a whopping seven times platinum in the U.S. You can also thank the uber-talented Babyface for that, since he is credited as the writer of EVERY song on the soundtrack. Let’s see, we all know and love “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” Toni Braxton’s “Let it Flow,” Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up in My Room,” and Mary J. Blige’s “Not Gon’ Cry,” all released as singles. But the album has less popular tracks that still had everyone grooving, and possibly doing a ‘lil somethin’ somethin’ else (*wink wink*). Please check out the Hot “This Is How it Works” by TLC, “Kissing You” by Faith Evan, and “It Hurts Like Hell” by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. This CD is still my jam to this day…
New Jack City
This crazy (but awesome) film had some of THE jams on it. R&B singers were featured hardcore on the soundtrack, the Hot and sultry ones at that. Christopher Williams (who appears in the film), sings “I’m Dreamin’” for the compilation, and everyone’s favorite multi-ethnic group Color Me Badd turned the heat up with “I Wanna Sex You Up.” With appearances by Guy, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill, and Troop featuring Levert doing a fly rendition of “For the Love of Money,” you can’t really go wrong. Like, seriously, you can’t.
Love & Basketball
The songs on this soundtrack played an integral part in some of the key scenes in the popular b-ball love story film. Guy’s “I Like” was played at the big dance. “Fool of Me” was used during the big game for Quincy’s heart, Donell Jones’ “I’ll Go” was the cut used at the end. Every song played out of the 12 provided made an appearance in the film, and made it that much more dope to watch. To top it all off, not only do you get new soulful joints, but the album has a bunch of classic rap and R&B hits on it, including songs by Zapp & Roger, MC Lyte, Rob Base and Al Green.
Another R&B heavy soundtrack, Soul Food’s corresponding disc was both Hot and sentimental. I mean, who doesn’t get a little teary-eyed when Boyz II Men’s “A Song for Mama” plays? They played that out! And then there’s also the feisty “What About Us” by Total, the sad but soulful “We’re Not Making Love No More” by Dru Hill, and “Slow Jam” from Monica & Usher. A big success, going two times platinum, this CD was a must for those domino flipping, spade playing get togethers at your mother’s place.
Oh New Jack Swing how I miss thee! Boomerang’s soundtrack definitely goes down as one of the best in black film. It embodies all that was fresh about the ‘90s, the fashion, the groove…everything. I mean, where else can you find the likes of Grace Jones, A Tribe Called Quest and Aaron Hall all on the same LP? Yeah, nowhere else. And any soundtrack that goes platinum has to have something to with Babyface. He lends his vocals for the track “Give U My Heart” with Toni Braxton, and is accompanied on the soundtrack with Keith Washington (“Tonight is Right”), Shanice (“Don’t Wanna Love You”) and Boyz II Men (“End of the Road”). If this soundtrack doesn’t make you want to pull out your sharpest suit, your loudest dress and do the wop, you must have no pulse.
I would be remiss to not include what I find to be the best soundtrack of all time. What can you say about The Bodyguard soundtrack that hasn’t already been said? I mean, it is the best selling soundtrack of all time, and won a Grammy award for Album of the Year, so nothing much needs to be said, you just let the music play for itself. Whitney’s not the only one to bless the soundtrack with hits. The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M., Kenny G and Lisa Stansfield all show out on the 13 song album. But we know Whitney runs the soundtrack, providing smash hit after smash hit. “I Will Always Love You,” I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman”: you name it, its been played out. And rightfully so, cause in case you were living under a rock, you should know that the soundtrack was ten times better than the movie. No challenge.