Day 4 of 12 Days of Early 90’s Hip Hop and we’re onto 1993.
Menace II Society Soundtrack – Various Artists (1993)
Produced by Various Producers
I start with the first of the albums released in hip hop’s most golden of years: 1993. I was 14 and knocking about with inappropriate boys. I was too young to see the movie at the cinema, so we watched it on video (VHS is too difficult to explain, kids. But you couldn’t pick where you wanted the film to start from and there were never any bonus features. Oh, the horror.) Interchangeable groups of between four and ten of us would sit in someone’s house watching this film over and over. The film was a cautionary tale of some young black men involved (either directly or indirectly) in gang related violence in Watts, California. It featured (and heralded the beginning of my crush on) the very beautiful Larenz Tate who played psychopathic O-Dog in the film. But the greatest aspect of the film was the near-perfect soundtrack.
Never has their been such a sublime soundtrack for a film, and I include Pulp Fiction in that. Another West Coast extravaganza, the album contains some near-perfect Hip Hop from straight out of the Gangsta category. Cutthroats’ Stop Looking at Me featuring (a decently hardcore sounding) Guru, along with Da Lench Mob’s Guerilla’s Ain’t Gangsters, and the DJ Premier Produced sequel of KRS-1/ BDP’s “P” is Still Free, are all stand out tracks, along with works from Spice-1 and Mc Eiht Streiht Up Menace and Trigga Gots No Heart. Fans of Mecca and the Soul Brother will enjoy the beautiful similarly produced Death Becomes You from Pete Rock and C. L. Smooth. In addition, there are two impressive songs from Smooth and Mz. Kilo who are – unfortunately – the only two women to feature on this early 90’s Hip Hop album list, by way of this compilation. That is not to say there weren’t great female MC’s around in the early 90’s: Queen Latifah, Yoyo and MC Lyte all made some good joints around this time, but to credit them with changing the Hip Hop landscape would be a deceit. As women we’re still waiting and hopeful for that day.
Although the album features artists from both the East and West Coast of the US, it primarily has the West Coast vibe. However, whilst the soundtrack is definitively 1993 in vibe and sound, I feel it’s not just nostalgia enabling me to still dip into this record and appreciate it today.