Category: Compilation / Soundtrack

Ministry Of Sound Hip Hop

Year: 2011

Label: Ministry Of Sound

Subculture Media Review:

(originally published on Suite 101)

Someone in the Ministry of Sound offices needs to either be A) forced to do a course in Hip-Hop 101; B) fired immediately; or, C) hung from the closest tree. See, a major crime has been committed against the hip-hop genre. While Ministry of Sound normally gets in spot-on with their Dance Music Anthologies, they have had a major stuff-up with their Anthems: Hip Hop, which is supposed to consist of the 54 greatest hip-hop tracks ever recorded. But while their 3-Disc celebration of the last 30 years of hip-hop of music is a great idea, the person behind the project has missed the mark by a mile.

One of two things has happened here: Either the team behind putting together the list of songs to be included on the album had no idea about hip-hop music, or they just couldn’t get the rights to the songs that wanted to include. Of the 54 so-called Greatest Hip-Hop songs of all time, only a very few of them deserve to have the word “greatest” put anywhere near them … many aren’t even hits. Some artists are severally misrepresented … I mean who in their right mind would say that “Joints & Jam” by the Black Eyed Peas or “Forgot About Dre” by Eminem are either artist’s best songs? Surely songs like “Stan” should have been a shoe-in.

But perhaps the biggest disservice to hip-hop is that one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time doesn’t even get one track included. Did anyone in the Ministry of Sound offices ever remember a certain artist called 2Pac? If they did, then they might have thought of including a track like “California Love,” one of the best-selling singles of all time. These kinds of omissions are unforgivable and make the album look like a joke.

The poor song selection makes each of the three discs very hit-and-miss indeed. Disc One is chock full of ordinary tracks that even the most hardcore hip-hop fan would struggle with. “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast and “Get UR Freak On” by Missy Elliott are the only worthy mentions, but what’s the point of just two tracks out of eighteen being any good?

Disc Two lifts the game a little with some commericial hits by the likes of Nelly, Salt-N-Pepa, the Notorious B.I.G., Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, 50 Cent and Ice Cube, making it more than serviceable. But all that good work is undone by a very ordinary Disc Three that is only saved by some classics by Run-DMC, Tone Loc and Kelis.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether it is simply poor song selection or the fact that Ministry of Sound couldn’t afford the rights to the songs they wanted, all that matters is that the album is an insult to hip-hop music and no one in their right mind would fork out $30 for it. A complete disaster!

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Ministry Of Sound Anthems: Hip Hop Reviews: This review by David Griffiths first appeared in Buzz Magazine.

Over the years Ministry Of Sound Anthologies have become a Bible to dance music fans in the same way that any Triple J Hottest 100 is a must have for those who love alternative music. Now Ministry Of Sound have branched out and released Anthems: Hip-Hop to celebrate thirty years of hip-hop… a three disc set no less. But seriously perhaps they should stick to dance music because while Ministry Of Sound claim they have captured the 54 greatest hip-hop tracks of all time, they have certainly missed the mark.

Clearly what Ministry Of Sound meant to say was they have captured 54 hip-hop songs that were cheap enough to purchase because these albums are loaded with ordinary tracks (that could hardly be considered hits… and certainly don’t deserve to have the word ‘Greatest’ placed anywhere near them) while there are some huge omissions, such as 2Pac (surely with the number of times we hear “California Love” each year that should have be remembered) and Lil’ Kim (a huge mover and shaker in the hip-hop world). Other strange choices include “Forgot About Dre” as one of Eminem’s best songs (how about including one of his hits???) and “Joints & Jam” by The Black Eyed Peas… doesn’t take a genius to work out that it certainly wasn’t one of their greatest hits.

Disc One is the biggest offender with only OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” and Missy Elliott’s “Get UR Freak On” saving it from being a complete waste of time. Disc Two certainly saves the day with 50 Cent, Ice Cube, DMX, Cypress Hill, Nelly, Slat-N-Pepa and The Notorious B.I.G. making for one hell of a party mix. It’s also nice to see “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco getting a little bit of love… he has to be one of the most underrated hip-hop artists going around. Disc Three is again another right off with only Run-DMC, Tone Loc and Kelis there to save the day.

It seems Ministry Of Sound set itself a task beyond it’s reach when it tried to fill 3 discs with hits, there are certainly more than 3 discs worth of hip-hop hits out there, Ministry Of Sound just chose the wrong ones (or couldn’t get the rights to the ones they wanted… we have to give the benefit of the doubt there). Perhaps they would have been better just trying to make a single disc of hits and doing the genre proud.
Rating: 2/5

Sucker Punch

Year: 2011

Label: WaterTower Music

Subculture Media Reviews:

(originally published on Suite 101)

Sucker Punch does the unthinkable. While the film may well be one of the worst films to surface this year, the soundtrack simply has to be one of the best. This is a sensational soundtrack that is only let down by the fact that it is only nine songs long.

One of the things that really surprises you when you first hear the Sucker Punch Soundtrack is that young actress Emily Browning has a voice that would put most pop-stars to shame. She is amazing and clearly shows this on the opening track, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of Us)”. If you thought that Marilyn Manson’s version of this track was good … well Browning’s blows it completely out of the water.

The unlikely pairing of Bjork and Skunk Anansie also produces a classic track with the Sucker Punch remix of “Army Of Me”. Skunk Anansie’s music gives the track a strong cinematic feel while the power and passion of Bjork’s vocals make this a real classic song. However, the same can’t be said for Emiliana Torrini’s “White Rabbit”. Her voice may be up to scratch but the song never really reaches the heights it was aiming for.

The producers of the soundtrack also make a brave choice when they choose to mash up the Queen classics “I Want It All” and “We Will Rock You”. And while rock purists may faint at the thought of these two being held together by the rap of Armageddon (aka Geddy), the song actually does work remarkably well and is a track you’ll keep returning to. It’s like a guilty little secret.

“Search And Destroy” sees Skunk Anansie go punky while the good “Tomorrow Never Knows” sees Carla Azar and Alison Mosshart enter the studio together. However, these tracks are quickly over-shadowing when Emily Browning returns with a haunting Decoder Ring-like track named “Asleep”, however it is her vocals on the epic “Where Is My Mind” (with Yoav) that really do show that she has the talent to make it as a singer. This even outshines the jazz-rock of “Love Is The Drug” by Carla Gugino and Oscar Issac.

While the film totally disgraces itself the soundtrack really does deserve a listen, even if only for the excellence of Emily Browning. In time this soundtrack will be considered a classic.

 

Subculture Media Review #2:

originally published in Buzz Magazine

It isn’t very often that you go and see a movie and leave thinking the best thing about it was actually the soundtrack. But that is certainly the case with new film Sucker Punch. While the film is dreadful the soundtrack certainly isn’t… the only gripe you can make is the fact that there is only nine songs… at least they are mainly songs of quality.

The big surprise on the Sucker Punch Soundtrack is how good of a singer young actress, Emily Browning is. She is absolutely stunning. Her vocal work on opening track, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of Us)” make the reworking of the old classic a must listen. She is so good that she nearly eclipses the version of this track that Marilyn Manson recorded a few years ago.

This is followed up by yet another classic track, Bjork and Skunk Anansie teaming up together to produce a Sucker Punch Remix of “Army Of Me”. Bjork’s powerful and passionate voice makes it a classic while the music gives it a real cinematic feel. The album does dip a little with Emiliana Torrini performing “White Rabbit”. While her voice is good the song never really reaches the crescendo it was aiming for.

Another standout is the “I Want It All/We Will Rock You Mash Up” featuring original vocals by Queen but also containing some great rap work from Armageddon (aka Geddy). While many may say it is blasphemy to tamper with two classic songs like this, this time around it actually does work.

Skunk Anansie turn to punk on “Search And Destroy” while the good “Tomorrow Never Knows” sees Carla Azar and Alison Mosshart team up together. Emily Browning returns with the haunting “Asleep” (where she sounds like Decoder Ring) while her work on the epic “Where Is My Mind” (with Yoav) once again proves that someone out there needs to offer the girl a record contract. The album then closes with the average jazzy-rock sound of Carla Gugino and Oscar Issac teaming up on “Love Is The Drug”.

Done the track it’s obvious that this soundtrack could genuinely be recognized as a piece of brilliance in itself… it’s just a pity it is tarnished by the crap film that comes along with it.

Rating: 5/5