[THROWBACK THURSDAY] MCA Gives Us the “Juice”
In January of 1992, Paramount Pictures released the drama thriller Juice, written and directed by Ernest Dickerson. The movie itself provided a look into the lives of 4 inner city youths struggling with the environment that engulfed them and the desire to gain the respect, or “juice” needed to survive it. The film was received with great reviews and served as the launch pad for rapper Tupac Shakur’s acting career.
One month before the cinematic release, MCA Records released the motion picture soundtrack to the film with the same name. The 54-minute project featured production from some of Hip-Hop’s élite such as EPMD, Ant Banks, Rakim and Naughty by Nature. While billed as a Hip-Hop album, Juice was in fact a nice blend of both Hip-Hop and R&B.
Tracks like “Don’t Be Afraid”, featuring Aaron Hall provided a sensual backdrop for the intimate post love-making scene with Omar Epps (Q) and his girlfriend. Remember the scene where Q approached the record store clerk in full-on Mack mode? The song bumping in the background was “Is It Good to You”, featuring the legendary Teddy Riley and Tammy Lucas.
The soundtrack featured both East Coast and West Coast artists. I remember hearing the soundtrack and having a debate with friends over whether or not Too $hort had two songs on the track or not. Track #4 entitled “Sex, Money and Murder” was in fact performed by Pooh Man while Short Dog held it down for the Bay with “So You Want To Be a Gangster”.
I’m telling you, go back and listen to these two tracks separately and see if you are not fooled like I was.
The God MC Rakim was the first artist you heard from the beginning of the film as his familiar vocals ripped the track “Nuff Respect”. We even got blessed to have the female trio of Salt-n-Pepa break down the cause and effect of being a player with “He’s Gamin on Ya.”
I like to think that this soundtrack set the bar for motion picture soundtracks to follow. Before Juice there was Boyz n the Hood, which was good in itself but featured mostly West Coast artists. Before the media-fueled drama between the two coasts, it was great to see artists come together with the result being timeless music.
One of my personal favorites records on this soundtrack was Juice (Know the Ledge). Eric B and Rakim questioned whether we knew the limits of pursuing the respect of the streets. That gritty, pulsating beat with lyrics from Rakim that were just as hard. It’s a soundtrack that complemented the film perfectly.
The author Jerry Miller
Aspiring entertainment writer from Indianapolis, Indiana. I served as the Entertainment Editor for the largest African-American magazine in the city of Indianapolis.