Immortal Records, 2002
REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/19/2002
A few years ago, Blade came out just as the comic-movie craze was becoming a saturated landfill in the theaters. Low-budget, smacking of B-movie charm, the movie was not expected to do well. However, Wesley Snipes's dead-on bad-ass performance and cutting-edge special effects (those who saw The Matrix were a little more prepared to be bowled over after seeing some of the scenes in Blade), helped made the movie a modest hit. Now that the video has been out for years, it has become a major cult hit.
Of course, a sequel was inevitable. Only this time, the budget is fatter than P-Diddy's payroll and expectations are much larger. Happy Walters, CEO of Immortal Records was put in charge of assembling a soundtrack to fit the movie. He has manned the boards for such hip-hop-meets-heavy metal-collaborations as Judgment Night and Spawn.
Much like his past two soundtracks, Walters aims to strike a balance between commercial and critical acclaim. For Blade II, it seems that Walters is leaning toward the latter balance. The soundtrack features some of the most innovative artists in trip-hop as well as hip-hop.
The pairings are inspired: Mystical meets up with Moby; Redman and Gorrillaz; Cypress Hill and Roni Size; The Roots and BT; Ice Cube and Paul Oakenfold, just to name a few. The dream combo in the soundtrack is a collaboration featuring trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack and hip-hop visionary Mos Def.
Much like all-star teams and superhero team-ups, some pairings work and some just seem to fall apart. Massive Attack's spooky, atmospheric beats work perfectly with Mos Def's confidant, smooth-flowing delivery. Even though the lyrics to "We Be Like This" may smack of hip-hop clichés, the slamming beats provided by Jadakiss, Danny Saber and Fabolous are so infectious that you couldn't care less.
"Gorillaz On My Mind," a fun, funky collaboration between Gorillaz and Redman brings out the best in both artists. For Redman, an artist plagued by recent weak efforts, the comic-book-style energy provided by Gorillaz seemed to re-energize Redman's creative process. And Redman's presence made Gorillaz seem well, less cartoonish.
Of course, other experiments do not work nearly as well. "The One," in insipid number featuring Busta Rhymes, Silkk The Shocker and Danny Saber, is almost forgotten once "We Be Like This" comes on. It doesn't help that Silkk's limited lyrical and rapping skills is matched up with Rhymes' furious, creative energy.
Unlike other so-called mergers of different musical styles, Blade II rarely feels like it's contrived or rehearsed. The dark, moody beats of many of these trip-hop artists mesh well and actually give a good amount of depth to some of the hip-hop artists on the list. So what if the movie may turn out to be over-hyped, inferior to the original and a big-budget disappointment? The soundtrack already ranks among the best in recent memory.