When reflecting upon the good ole days of early 1990s urban/hip-hop cinema, a handful of titles are almost always mentioned. There’s “Boyz N The Hood,” “Menace II Society,” “New Jack City” and then “House Party.” All are revered as classics in the eyes of many, but what about their accompanying soundtracks. All four of the above listed films share a commonality amongst them by featuring soundtrack contributions from some of the major players in the movies. You have Ice Cube and Yo-Yo on “Boyz N The Hood,” MC Eiht on “Menace II Society,” Ice-T on “New Jack City” and Kid-n-Play and Full Force from “House Party.”
For those old enough to remember, there are certain scenes in “House Party” that are permanently ingrained into our cerebral cortex. There’s the dance battle, the slow dancing, the jailhouse rap and of course the battle between Kid and Play. So after nearly 25 years, how does the soundtrack fare today?
To be fair, the official soundtrack is missing some vital cuts, including the opening tune from the film – Luther Vandross’ “Bad Boy/Having A Party,” Heatwave’s “Always and Forever” and Full Force’s “Ain’t My Type of Hype.” The omissions are unfortunate, but it is what it is. Besides, in this day and age, all three songs are a hop, skip and click away. What we’re left with is an 11-track compilation of songs coming from the likes of Zan, Artz & Kraftz, LL Cool J, Flavor Flav, Today, Force MD’s, Kenny Vaughan & The Art of Love, Full Force Family and of course, Kid-n-Play.
The party opens up with Today’s “Why you Get Funky On Me,” a new-jack infused ditty about love gone awry. Artz & Kraftz follow with “What A Feeling,” one of the two appearances they make on the soundtrack. The song is formidable for what it is, but doesn’t do anything to become a highlight of the party. Staten Island legends, the Force MD’s leave a bigger impression before giving way to the Full Force Family who performs the title track. For any curious minds that are wondering just who the Full Force family members are, the include Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, UTFO, Cheryll “Pepsii” Riley, Doctor Ice, Ex Girlfriend and E-Crot. Kenny Vaughan & The Art of Love strip and slow things down a bit with “This Is Love.” The crooning here draws comparison to a more romantic Gil Scott-Heron, but certainly not quite.
The middle portion of the soundtrack features tunes from hip-hop heavyweights LL Cool J, Flavor Flav and Kid-n-Play. “Fun House” is preceded by “I Can’t Do Nothing For You, Man” and followed by LL’s extremely out of place, but welcomed diss track “To Da Break Of Dawn.” The other Kid-n-Play joint is the battle between the duo from the movie with a few extra lines between the verses. The back and forth of “Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you” could have been left on the cutting room floor to be honest.
The party comes to a close with Zan’s “I Ain’t Goin Out Like That” and Artz & Craftz’ “Surely.” The latter is one of the better examples of new jack swing on the soundtrack. It’s funky, snappy and catchy. It’s such a shame that those songs I mentioned before didn’t find their way onto the album. The made the movie memorable and certainly would have enhanced the soundtrack as well. All in all, “House Party” is a classic movie, but the soundtrack just doesn’t fare as well on its own–you find yourself anxiously waiting for the party to end so you can just go home.