#VanTukkaFriday Icon of the Week: Black Movie Soundtracks
We here at GrownNSexy make no bones about the fact that the 90s were the best decade. Ever. The music of the time stands – even today – as a proud monument to that awesomeness. Combine that with our first unforgettable memories of fine brothers and sisters doing their thing on screen, and there you have the classic black movie soundtrack.
Many of us probably still remember the movie Boyz N the Hood. Back in 1991, this was an undisputed ground-breaker. For folks in the US of A, it was a (sometimes uncomfortable) first glimpse into the life of inner-city black males – portrayed on screen in a real and raw way. So important was this film that, in 2000, the country’s Library of Congress deemed it ‘culturally significant’ and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
It launched the careers of black actors that would go on to achieve near-legendary status in the genre and featured others that were already well on their way (think Morris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jnr., and Lawrence Fishburne). And then there was the soundtrack! Featuring hip-hop notables of the day like Ice Cube, Yo-Yo and Too Short; RnB crooners like Tevin Campbell and the legend that is Quincy Jones – the album hit #1 on the Top RnB chart and reached #12 on the Billboard 200.
A revolution had begun…
Throughout the decade, black movie-makers kept churning out classic after classic: Menace 2 Society; Higher Learning; Love and Basketball; Soul Food; New Jack City; Above the Rim; Poetic Justice; Jason’s Lyric; Love Jones; Set It Off; Waiting to Exhale (whew. need I go on?). And the black music-makers were right there with them, making the hits that would forever stay ingrained in our minds – a part of our cultural lexicon and a heady reminder of those early days of seeing people that looked like us playing out their own stories on the big screen.
The soundtracks were as a big a hit as the movies, and we would exchange the VHS’ between us, right along with the cassette tapes. I remember being able to match every song to the exact scene in the movie – reliving each emotion as the tracks played. What a joy it was to be able to buy just one album and be treated to all manner of collaboration between your favourite artists; hear a perfect melding of old school and new school; and, all the while, have this one-of-a-kind and uniquely ‘ours’ context from which to view it all.
But, alas, those days are gone. While, for those of us in the motherland, we are entering a time where we are seeing more and more stories by, for and about *us* on our big screens – sadly, the poor folks across the pond remain subjected to the inanity of Madea and her endless stream of relatives. It’s just fat suits and slap-stick for them… Poor things.
But on all sides of the Diaspora there is still that one element that is missing: the music.
So, to all the black movie- and music-makers out there, we say “bring it back”. Who knows; that may just be the one thing standing between you and an all-time classic.