As the executive producer of the "Big Momma's House" soundtrack, hip-hop and R&B producer Jermaine Dupri said he had to perform a delicate balancing act.
"You wanted [the music] to have something to do with the movie," Dupri said. "But if you make the songs too close to the movie and the movie bombs, then the soundtrack will bomb, too. I wanted to play it safe that way."
The "Big Momma's House" album, which comes out Tuesday (May 30), features a host of hip-hop and R&B artists, including Da Brat, Jagged Edge and Nas.
In the comedy, due June 2, Martin Lawrence is an FBI agent who goes undercover and under a lot of make-up to protect a single mother from an escaped convict.
The soundtrack also features the solo debut of Kandi (born Kandi Burruss) of the platinum-selling girl group Xscape, whose last album was 1998's Traces of My Lipstick. "What I'm Gon' Do to You" (RealAudio excerpt), produced by Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, is just real life set to music, Kandi said.
"Some of my friends got crazy when they found out their boyfriends had been cheating on them," Kandi said of the song, a revenge fantasy in which the betrayed woman threatens her man's house, bank account and life. The song ends with Kandi rapping in pig latin.
"I was hoping to get Left Eye from TLC to rap on the song, and I had even left the space for it on the record," she said. "When she couldn't do it, I had to fill the space, and pig latin seemed like a fun, different way to do it."
In addition to working as a producer on albums by Mariah Carey (1995's Daydream) and Aaliyah (1996's One in a Million), Dupri has written hits for Jagged Edge and others. On the "Big Momma's House" soundtrack, he writes, produces and raps on a remix of Da Brat's "That's What I'm Looking For" (RealAudio excerpt).
Jagged Edge whose ballad "Let's Get Married" (which Dupri co-wrote) is #6 on the R&B/hip-hop charts teamed up with pop-soul group Blaque and rapper R.O.C. for "You Can Always Go." The song starts out in typically smooth Jagged Edge style, but then it starts kickin' it with a Bryan-Michael Coxproduced jam.
"That's the vibe we wanted to get out," Jagged Edge's Richard Wingo said. "People are kind of pigeonholing us as balladeers, so we wanted to show them our other side."
Dupri's also working with Usher on the R&B singer's next album. Dupri hasn't released an album of his own since 1998's Jermaine Dupri Presents 12 Soulful Nights of Christmas. But he said he's been recording plenty of material; his next album, still untitled, should be out by the end of the year.
"I'm rapping all the time," Dupri said. "I've just been too busy writing and producing to release it for a while."