Hits: Slam Soundtrack

Various Artists

Slam-Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Immortal Records

Winner of the 1998 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Slam has the potential to fulfill the dream that 1997’s Rhyme And Reason, both theatrically and soundtrack-wise, promised to. The film is a dramatic documentary-style feature that follows a young black man through the pitfalls of the criminal-justice system. The lead character’s talent as a slammer-a practitioner of the spoken-word art form that combines profound poetic deliveries with the attitude and energy of hip-hop-proves to be his salvation in the face of a future that too many inner-city youths can’t or don’t know how to escape.

The disc opens with “Sex, Money, & Drugs” by Big Punisher featuring Next: “Sex, money/ Where I rest / It’s all about wimps, honeys, and thugs.” Perhaps because of Next’s collaboration or maybe because it’s a soundtrack, Big Punisher doesn’t come across quite as raw as most of the work on his Capital Punishment CD. But he and the artists featured on the disc are no less powerful for the feeling of reserve most of the tracks display.

The disc also features slams from the movie that leave nothing in reserve, exposing any nerves not already bared by the lyrics and music; maybe they open some wounds for the message to seep into. Nevertheless, “Ron” is a slam from the Scared Straight school of thought certain to sting enough to get the main points of this project across.

Although Q-Tip’s “Hey” and KRS-One with Saul Williams’ “Ocean Within” carry more of a lighthearted vibe, Brand Nubian’s “Time is Running Out,” Goodie Mob and Esthero’s “The World I Know,” and Dead Prez on “Sellin D.O.P.E. (Drugs Oppress People Everyday)” offer the perfect mix of lyrics and pensive melodies to remind listeners of the origins of hip-hop and rap: “Sellin’ dope/ sellin’ weed/ we had to hustle/ just to eat.”