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What The Game’s Been Missing: Soundtracks For Life


Don't judge me, but I saw Love Jones for the first time the other night. (Hey, I said don't judge me!!) Because Dionne Farris' song "Hopeless" annoyed me to no end, I had never gotten around to watching the movie, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were real and identifiable, they were smart, and they were hopelessly in love. I marveled at Larenz Tate's ambiguous hairline (seriously, how did they comb his hair backwards), and the fact that Nia Long has been in seemingly every black romantic comedy, ever. The music alone transported me back to middle school, and I thought to myself, movie soundtracks in the '90s were something else.

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There were a lot of major soundtracks released from 1990 to 2000. Just
to refresh your memory, here is a short list of motion pictures from the
time:

  • Waiting to Exhale
  • Higher Learning
  • The Best Man
  • Love Jones

  • Boomerang
  • Soul Food

You probably only remember these films because of how each song
on the soundtrack made you feel at a particular point in the movie. The
beautiful thing about movies (and television shows, for that matter) is
that they give musicians yet another venue through which to share their
artistry.

Take Maxwell, for instance. He came back on the scene with BLACKsummers'night
to find hundreds of thousands of fans yearning for his music, but he didn't reached OG status for nothing. Yes, he released three successful albums prior to that one, but Maxwell's music was in almost every
black romantic comedy. Think about all the soundtracks that he's contributed to: Love and Basketball ("This Woman's
Work"), The Best
Man
("Let's Not Play The Game"), Life ("Fortunate"), and Love Jones ("Sumthin
Sumthin"). My generation's idea of soul was shaped not only by what we
watched but what we listened to while watched. It is no
surprise then that Maxwell would have the level of success -- and
devotion from fans -- after having been away for so many years.
He may have been out of sight, but every time we popped in one of those DVDs or soundtracks, he was still there.

So I say that to say this: we need more films and television shows that
capture the lives and love of people of color. And I don't mean Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to the Grocery Store or those Russ Parr bootleg joints you find on Netflix or BET at 3 am either (*cough* Something
Like a Business
*cough*). With the rise of independent black film, there is hope for new  filmmakers to take up the mantle of showing how fly, funky, and fresh we are.
All black men are not dogs or cross-dressers, nor are all black women sassy and single. With indie filmmakers of color behind the camera, it only makes sense for them to work in tandem with indie artists and musicians of color to create a fresh batch of hot soundtracks.

But hopefully a change gon' come. Word is that The Foreign Exchange is scoring Matthew A. Cherry's feature film debut, The Last Fall, and contributing to the soundtrack. See, that's what I'm talking about. We need more of that. How dope would it be to have Eric Roberson serenading us from a movie theater seat? Or Kendrick Lamar rapping on the 2012 version of "Menace II Society"? Or KING's
harmonies being the next "End of The Road"? Bring on the next Mo'
Money
, the next Strictly Business, and the next Friday, because I guarantee
that the music will be the soundtrack of our lives.


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