In 2001 I looked at the soundtrack for “The Fast and the Furious,” a film that turned out to be a blockbuster success for everyone involved, earning over $200 million in theaters against a budget of $38 million. It was hardly surprising then that a sequel was released, nor that a soundtrack to accompany it followed, one I actually enjoyed more than the first installment. Perhaps at that point I should have realized the film was going to become a franchise with a new chapter released every few years. I may have even mistakenly believed it was over given the the savage review DJ Complejo gave to the “Tokyo Drift” soundtrack. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Fate of the Furious” was the eighth movie in a series that shows no signs of stopping any time soon, with the tenth film coming out last year. Not even the unfortunate death of Vin Diesel’s co-star Paul Walker has slowed their momentum, although it certainly added a somber tone to the movie before this one (it was still in production when he passed). One thing that’s stayed as consistent as the films is their relationship to hip-hop through both acting (Ludacris, John Cena, Tego Calderón, Don Omar) and the soundtracks. At this point there are so many spinoffs, tie in films, related media and video games one could devote an entire website or Wikia just to chronicling them all. I won’t be the person to do it, but maybe I can at least catch up on the soundtracks that accompany the “main” films of the franchise.

There was a time when rap artists wrote songs specifically for soundtracks. Perhaps they got to see a rough cut before it hit theaters, or read a script to glean some insight, or perhaps they even starred in the film their songs appeared on. I can’t say NBA YoungBoy & 21 Savage’s “Murder (Remix)” has any connection to the eighth film other than just how many of Cipher’s cronies get merked on screen. I don’t want to get too far off the subject of the soundtrack but “The Fate of the Furious” was so over the top they had to CGI in (and then destroy) a freaking submarine. If the music to accompany it has any connection, it’s that the songs and some of their videos are equally excessive. I’d cite Pitbull & J Balvin’s “Hey Ma” as the perfect example.

This “Hey Ma” certainly won’t be confused with the “easy like Sunday morning” vibes of the DipSet anthem of the same name. Sidebar — that might be the one Cam’Ron song that I like completely unironically. The vibes are perfect. Between two songs named “Hey Ma” that’s the one I’m going to listen to first. What song am I going to listen to first off “The Fate of the Furious” though? It’s Lil Uzi Vert, Quavo and Travis Scott’s “Go Off.” It feels like the only song on this entire soundtrack actually written with the film and/or franchise in mind. The lyrics are focused on driving, speeding, racing and “souped up cars all around me.” It fits the series like a glove.

Frankly the word “excess” keeps coming to mind when I think about this album. They released six singles from it, and the only ones I couldn’t find official music videos for were “Horses” and “Candy Paint.” The former is a shame since it features the late PnB Rock, and the latter is surprising given it features massive crossover superstar Post Malone, although I can perhaps understand it given the film and soundtrack came out a year BEFORE his second album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Don’t get me wrong — Malone was still a big deal and that’s why he’s included here — but he’d be an even bigger deal right after it came out.

I suppose that brings me neatly to a point that ties both the movie and soundtrack franchises together — each one tries to outdo the last in terms of the big budget behind it. The films always seek big names to bring in: The Rock, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Gal Gadot, Tyese, et cetera. It’s damn near like “The Expendables” in terms of star power and the fact that they just stay making sequels to it. The sound for “The Fate and the Furious” is just as much a who’s who of 2017 rap stars: G-Eazy, Kevin Gates, Ty Dolla $ign, 21 Savage, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, et cetera. As slick as both the soundtrack and film are there’s an undeniably “plastic” quality to both as well. There’s nothing organic to cramming that much star power into either one. It’s done because it works. People will buy it. That’s all that matters to the money brokers behind it. I can’t recommend either one as intellectually stimulating, but they’re both some empty calorie escapism to enjoy, and we all need that from time to time.

various artists :: The Fate of the Furious
6.5Overall Score