various artists :: Music From the Motion Picture Judgment Night :: Immortal Records/Epic Soundtrax
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Long before Jeremy Piven became famous as 'Droz' in "PCU" or even MORE famous as the hyperkinetic agent Ari Gold in "Entourage," he could be found playing supporting roles in a slew of bad and entirely forgettable Hollywood movies like "Judgment Night." Here's a synopsis of this shitfest - four friends make a road trip to Chicago to see boxing in an RV driven by Piven's character Ray Cochran. They make a wrong turn, they meet a bad man (played by Denis Leary) and all hell breaks loose. There - I've just saved you 109 minutes of your life you would never get back watching this piece o' shit movie (a fucking, piece o' shit mo-vieeeee). Even good actors have to do a lot of bad crap in their career before they get the big break, and this movie is no exception.

There is ONE memorable thing about this film though, and it's not the fact that Jeremy Piven was in it. Regardless of how I felt about the film then or now "Judgment Night" was arguably anywhere from 2-5 years ahead of the "nu metal" trend of merging hard rock with hip-hop in the 1990's. That's not to say rap and rock hadn't been working together going back to well before Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" with Aerosmith, but before "Judgment Night" each song had been a one-off experiment by a rocker or rap group. No one had ever put together an ENTIRE ALBUM of rap and rock collaborating together that I'm aware of before "Judgment Night"; even if someone had done so they didn't do it as boldly as was done here. Each song paired a different rap and rock act together, ones who had never worked together before, and one gets the feeling the label either figuratively or literally said "Okay we supplied the concept - YOU GUYS make it work." Starting with the pure adrenaline rush track "Just Another Victim" they did indeed make it work to a degree even Tim Gunn would be proud of. Helmet provided cruncy up-tempo guitars and snarled vocals for the first half, then slowed to a funky but equally chunky crawl as House of Pain's lead rapper Everlast sauntered in for lyrics as insane as they were memorable:

"Holy Godiva, I'm a survivor
Feeling like DeNiro in Taxi Driver
With Jodie Foster, and Harvey Keitel
Looks like I'm walkin through a livin Hell
So spark that L, and I'll get lifted
feelin the effects of what my spliff did
Cause I'm gifted, I read Sun Tzu
I brought a gun too so you'll never come to
The weight of the world ridin on my shoulders
Cause I'm a soldier, I thought I told ya
You're just another victim
You're just another victim, kid"

Sure says the reader - they were ahead of the curve and they caught lightning in a bottle one time. Not one time friend, MANY times. The executive producers (Happy Walters, Glen Brunman and Amanda Scheer) may have been high on a few hits from the bong and a couple of acid tabs when they came up with this concept, but nobody was goofy in the studio when it came time to record. De La Soul and Teenage Fanclub married together brilliantly on "Fallin'," to a degree that saw the song released as a single that was probably more successful than the movie itself at the box office. Unlike the rest of this album it would be hard to accurately call this collabo' "nu metal" so let's settle for the much more apt "Dylan-hop," because you can easily imagine Bob rapping on this laid back track:

Pos: "Hey, yo kids! (What's up!)
Remember when I used to be dope? (Yeah)
I owned a pocketful of fame
(But look what you're doin now!) I know... well I know...
I lost touch with reality, now my personality
is an unwanted commodity (can't believe it!)
Can't believe I used to be Mr. Steve Austin on the mic
Six million ways, I used to run it
I guess Oscar Goldman got mad
Cause I got loose circuits (so loose, sigga-sigga so loose)
I be the Mother Goose with the eggs
that seem to be {fallin, fallin, fallin...}"

After two straight hits, the trend continues when the original kings of rap rock (there are none higher) Run-D.M.C. collaborate with Living Colour on "Me, Myself & My Microphone." While this song is a light-hearted and friendly affair, the Onyx and Biohazard duet "Judgment Night" is the darkest desires of both combined into malevolent brilliance. To this day Sticky Fingaz' closing verse on the album version stands as a testament to simultaneous depravity and insanity that a hundred or more horrorcore pretenders have never been able to match:

"I swear to fuckin God I raise Hell and make the white man call me MASTER
I'm six-six-six, and need to repent to the pastor
SO FUCK THE RADIO and close your ears but read my lips I rips
and if you eat my words I'll leave you strung like umm (UMM, UMMMHH!!)
It was on the tip of my tongue!
But now it's stuck in between my throat
I can't breath so I lick it
Onyx ain't the top pick, you must be suckin a black dick
And if it takes the death of me, to make history
The whole world will remember my misery!!
I know what I'm tryin to say my words get in the way
they render me speechless, ohh Black Jesus I'm cryin inside
Couldn't give a FUCK if I live or I die
cause I'm just a slave who's brave (uh-huh)
But fuck pickin cotton, I'd rather see my grave, so I
meditated, before I was created
And if you prefer sorrow, made me reincarnated
Now I'm back rulin MC's but pussy niggaz increase
Well then it's just another nigga that, gotta get greased
So if you wanna talk shit, in order to avoid a fight
Say what the fuck you wanna say, just spell my name right

Oddly the only track that widely misses the mark is Slayer & Ice-T's "Disorder," and Ice-T was himself on the cusp of the nu-metal revolution with his band Bodycount. The often criminally overlooked Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. thug it out with Faith No More on "Another Body Murdered" while Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth smooth it out on "I Love You Mary Jane." Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot jam for Seattle on "Freak Momma" while Del and Dinosaur Jr. explore the "Missing Link" between rap and rock in a track that predicts the wilder flows he would expose much later in the 1990's:

"What in blazes
hey this, is fat weigh this
I'll portray this
Photographs, so the last laugh
is mine, you're behind
for the mind, and for the soul
That's how I roll
Now I hold
the mic, like my life
depended on it
Undo your bonnet
My non gets watered
and I'm apart from whackness
I'm separated
Did you like how I spiked the ball
Despite you all
you could come bite a small portion
there's more in the vault
Halt, have a malt
I alter your brain patterens
Yeah it's my fault"

Rounded out with Therapy & Fatal's grim "Come and Die" and the Cypress Hill & Pearl Jam bonus track "Real Thing," the "Judgment Night" soundtrack is a short but highly enjoyable 11 track concept that on paper should probably have failed but succeeded beyond everyone's wildest expectations. Will Fred Durst or Mike Shinoda ever give their due to this disc? Probably not... but they should. This soundtrack leaves a giant footprint in the nu metal movement that artists of the genre today are undoubtedly still standing in.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: October 23, 2007