When Happy Walters -- the man who supervised the rock/rap hybrid soundtrack
to the gang-violence film "Judgment Night" -- went about putting together
the soundtrack for "Slam," he searched for artists who were strong
"Slam," which won the Grand Jury Award at this year's Sundance Film
Festival, is a movie about a poet/rapper who struggles to maintain his
creative drive while in prison. Its soundtrack called for rappers who could
hold their own against spoken-word artists.
"I basically had my wish list and just approached artists with the film's
concept," Walters explained recently from his offices in Santa Monica,
Calif. "Most of the artists got the concept right away, and those who
weren't feeling it at first definitely got it after seeing the
The result of Walter's work is the soundtrack to "Slam," which is due in
stores on Oct. 13. It features 19 new tracks, including offerings from such
hip-hop artists as the reunited Brand Nubian ("Time Is Running Out"),
gangsta-rapper Noreaga ("Thug Poetry") and Q-Tip, whose "Hey" is his first
release since announcing his departure from the acclaimed hip-hop ensemble
A Tribe Called Quest. The soundtrack also features spoken-word performances
from various actors in the film.
One of the performers who said he was excited to take part in the
soundtrack before seeing the movie was Big Gipp from the Atlanta
rap group the Goodie Mob. The Mob performs on a remix of "Country
Livin' " by trip-hoppers Esthero. According to Gipp, his
group was eager to contribute the track even before seeing the film.
"When we heard the song, we really loved the song, and we loved the hook,
and we loved what [Esthero] was talking about," Gipp explained from a
Goodie Mob tour stop in Memphis, Tenn. "We just trying to let people
know that living in the South is not the stuff you see on cartoons -- all
country with chiggers all over. It's not like that. A lot of young people
are down here having things and respecting life."
After seeing the film, Gipp said he was even more thrilled to be involved
with the soundtrack. In short, Gipp could relate to the theme of being an
artist in a society that doesn't appreciate your work, he said. "Before we
dropped records, we worked in warehouses and labor jobs," Gipp explained.
"I used to write and rap to myself all day long, so I can relate to that
"It's like [Goodie Mob member] Cee-Lo says all the time," Gipp concluded,
" 'I'm an artsy person, I can't fit into straight society.' That's what I
do, you know what I'm saying? I was born to rap."
That, according to Walters, was what he was trying to capture with the
soundtrack. "The feeling of the movie isn't really about the injustice of
the system," Walters said. "[It's] more about people and what they do to
survive. All the [contributing] artists understood that."
In addition to the Sundance Grand Jury prize, "Slam" picked up the Art &
Essay Independent Award and the Prix du Public award at this year's Cannes
Film Festival. The film is set for general release later this year.
The track listing for the Slam soundtrack is: "CakeB" by Bonz
Malone as Hopha; "Sex, Money & Drugs" by Big Punisher, featuring
Next; "Ain't No Stoppin' " by Most Wanted, featuring Pras; "Hey" by Q-Tip; "I
Dare You" by Black Rob; "Psychopath Nut" by Momolu Stewart as Bey; "The
Park" by Ol' Dirty Bastard (a.k.a. Big Baby Jesus) and Coolio; "Sellin
D.O.P.E. (Drugs Oppress People Everyday)" by dead prez; "Thug Poetry" by
Noreaga, featuring Brown & Maze; "Why" by Jerome Goldman as Ron; "Country
Livin' (Remix)" by Goodie Mob with Esthero; "Feel My Gat Blow" by Mobb
Deep; "Take A Walk In My Shoes" by Flipmode Squad, featuring Busta Rhymes;
"I Can See" by Tekitha & Cappadonna; "Time Is Running Out" by Brand Nubian;
"Run Free" by Sonja Sohn as Lauren Bell; "Ocean Within" by KRS-One, with
Saul Williams; "Galactic Funk (Live From The Black Hole Mix)" by DJ Spooky;
and "Time (Sha-Clack-Clack)" by Saul Williams as Raymond Joshua.