Yes Juliet, Romeo Must Die. DMX, Jet Li, and Aaliyah have all commited themselves to this outcome in this brand new film – and if Jet Li was a rapper, he’d probably be on the soundtrack too.
In fact, of the album’s first six tracks, Aaliyah is responsible for three.. even though the one that puports to feature DMX actually seems to be the other way around. Either way, as much as I liked Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” from the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack, none of this soundtrack’s contributions by her have that much charm. In fact “Come Back in One Piece” works solely because of DMX’s rap and the fact the track is clearly jacked from N.W.A’s “Nigga4Life.”
Moving away from the so-called “star’s” songs, the album starts to fare a little better. Joe’s “Rose in a Concrete World” proves why the hit singer behind “Don’t Wanna Be a Playa (No Mo’)” and “Faded Pictures” is still one of R&B’s most underrated singers. B.G.’s “Rollin Raw” is a typical Cash Money type song which may be just a little more R&Bling Bling than his previous hits, but not in an unwelcome way – it just doesn’t sound like Manny Fresh. The surprising return of Magoo on “We At it Again” proves he still sounds like Q-Tip, but Timbaland’s rap track is still the star here.
Destiny’s Child tries hard make “Perfect Man” a winner but the song does not have the lush sonicscape of previous hits such as “Bug-a-Boo” or “Say My Name.” Ginuwine’s “Simply Irresistible” fares a little better for it’s classical style strings but the beat behind it really does not pack much punch. By the second verse the bass comes in, but the song needs a harder track to be a winner.
Unknown rappers Confidential is actually the artist to break up the monotony of the last three R&B tracks, but really aren’t saying anything other than “I’ma spit at you, I’ma hit at you” in a very DMX-esque thug style that makes all their energy and fire dissapointing. Mack 10 fares better on “Thugz” because he is already well known as a Westsyder and Hoo-Banger, and sticks to the trademarks that made him famous – although Tha Comrades could have been left behind. This small amount of momentum is briefly carried by Aaliyah’s “I Don’t Wanna” – a track which seems to have been her only inspired performance herein.
Unfortunately, The Murderers track “Somebody Gonna Die Tonight” (actually billed here as Dave Bing and Lil’ Mo) kills that off by being yet another tired thugs n gats rap which works even less well than usual due to the fact this soundtrack comes only in an edited version. It’s not as if you can’t tell what words were left out, but you end up feeling you wouldn’t care much more if they were put back in. When followed by Timbaland’s generic R&B group getting “Woozy” one is left feeling that somebody spiked their punch.
This soundtrack continues to drag out with less than inspired music from artists who are generally capable of much better. Dave Hollister’s “Pump the Brakes”, Chante Moore’s “This is Not a Test” and soundtrack sculptor Stanley Clarke’s “Swung On” features the laughable mistake of including a rap act called Politix. This song has nothing in common with the work Clarke contributed to “Boys N the Hood” or “Higher Learning” and shouldn’t even be held in the same regard.
In trying to craft a pop-friendly, commercially acceptable edited soundtrack to flow with this action movie, Timbaland’s vanity label Blackground Records is definitely more miss than hit. This one unfortunately is not a must have or even a near miss. In an era where many soundtracks fare better than their B-quality movies in sales and value; it would be almost impossible for the opposite of that recent maxim to be true. Spend that $12 on a ticket and a box of popcorn instead – you’ll enjoy it a lot more.