OPINION: In a series for Black Music Month, Panama asks one of the all-important questions about Black movies: Which is better: the soundtrack or the movie?
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It’s June in Black America, which means that it’s also Black Music Month, or as it’s known more contemporarily for federal celebration and proclamation purposes, African-American Music Appreciation Month. The feds are always watching, stay fresh, y’all. Last week, we broke down which was better (or more iconic) Waiting to Exhale or the soundtrack to it. The movie won (by a landslide). We have a new one up this week: Above the Rim.
Here’s a quick reminder and breakdown to explain how we’re going to come to our definitive, biblically sound, scientific conclusion. We will use five different scientifically subjective and anecdotally sound categories; five because we need a potential tiebreaker:
When you think of INSERT NAME HERE, do you think of the movie or the soundtrack first? While this entire exercise could probably start and end here, why would we do such a thing? Plus, people are wrong sometimes. Not me, though. Y’all.
What had more impact? While sales should never be the main determinant of iconic status, a soundtrack can’t be iconic if nobody actually bought the thing. Or spent any time talking about it or there were no videos, etc. A movie can become a cult classic, a soundtrack pretty much needs to bop out the gate. Similarly, if a movie falls in the forest and nobody sees it, well, who in the hell left the gate open? It makes more sense in my head.
How many iconic stars are in it? Is the movie full of stars (or future stars) and does the soundtrack have a plethora of big names and features? Iconic things include iconic people. I’m sure there are exceptions to this; I hope I never get stuck with one.
What is the biggest moment? In order for something to be iconic, there has to be something that everybody can remember about it immediately. For a movie, there has to be some kind of scene (or scenes) that folks are like “YASSSSSSS!” in a Beyoncé-dropped-an-album kind of way. For a soundtrack to be iconic, it has to have a song that had the people talking.
Which has remained more culturally relevant? Admittedly, this is mad subjective, but I also objectively feel like this won’t be that hard to determine. Some soundtracks from the ’90s really just killed the game (i.e., The Show soundtrack; I haven’t even been compelled to watch the doc since probably 1999, which is a year I always aim to party like.)
Are you ready, ready? Good. #ohletsdoit
Above the Rim, released in December 1994, was directed and co-written by Jeff Pollack, with the screenplay by Barry Michael Cooper. I think we can all agree that the movie and the soundtrack are iconic. But which one is more iconic? Let’s fight.
When you think of Above the Rim, do you think of the movie or the soundtrack first?
You know—and I’m possibly breaking the fourth wall here—I don’t think the movie stands a chance here. For instance, I’ve been a part of RECENT debates on whether or not Above the Rim is the GOAT Black movie soundtrack. It comes up in a significant number of conversations about movie soundtracks. It was a West Coast soundtrack for an East Coast movie RIGHT before the whole East Coast vs. West Coast Beef started. It was on Death Row Records, which, at the time, could literally do no wrong. Dr. Dre was involved. Everybody was involved. The movie, on the other hand, which I enjoy very, very much, is very well known but I just don’t think folks have as much reverence for it as they do the soundtrack (assuming they’re familiar with either). Personally, I almost always think of the soundtrack first. I will assume I speak for the majority of everybody everywhere.
What had more impact?
Well, according to .
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