You could say that 1997 was the beginning of the golden era of music soundtracks. After all, it was the same year that also brought us the Love Jones The Music. When the Soul Food Soundtrack dropped in September 1997, it welcomed listeners into a world as warm and rich as grandmama's biscuits at Sunday dinner.
The LaFace release featured a mix of songs that provided the perfect backdrop for the story about the importance of family, love and happiness. The soundtrack opens up with the Boyz II Men track "A Song For Mama." Although it was the third official release from the soundtrack, the song ended up serving as the movie's theme song. Produced and written by Babyface, the touching ode to mothers touched a nerve with the public, eventually spending two weeks at the No. 1 spot on the U.S. R&B chart.
Another of the soundtrack's most memorable songs came from a group that was organized for the sole purpose of recording it. "I Care About You" brought together K-Ci & JoJo and Kevon Edmonds and Melvin Edmonds of After 7 fame to form the group Milestone. The group itself played into the movie's storyline, with the brotherly quartet appearing in the movie as the band who one of the movie's characters plays keyboards with. Although the group's duration was shortlived, it left a lasting impression with the song still earning regular spins on airwaves across the country today.
Though the soundtrack was heavy on R&B jams like Total's "What About Us" or Usher and Monica's take on Midnight Star's classic "Slow Jam," the soundtrack also featured a healthy serving of southern fried hip-hop thanks to the Outkast and CeeLo Green song "In Due Time."
Twenty years after its release, the Soul Food Soundtrack remains a perfect capsule of the best and brightest artists of the time. A quick scan of any music chart from that year would likely read like the roster of artists like En Vogue, Puff Daddy and Dru Hill who all lent their talents for the soundtrack. Such star power and talent definitely rubbed off on the multi-platinum soundtrack, propelling it to the No. 4 spot on Billboard 200 and the No. 1 spot on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Oddly enough, even with such chart-topping success, the album is hard to come by these days. It doesn't appear on any streaming services and we could only uncover a few physical copies for sale on Amazon. While there's little info available on why the seminal work has seemingly disappeared, it does little to lessen the impact it had on the charts and on the airwaves.
Various Artists Soul Food Soundtrack [Amazon]