Memphis is a city rich in musical history. Whether you’re talking about the blues or the plethora of artists that came from the Stax Records imprint (arguably the first Motown) it’s clear that there’s something in air there that breeds greats. From Isaac Hayes and Al Green to 8Ball & MJG, Tela and Jazzy Pha, the sound has been developed and expanded over the years.
So it’s not surprising that the tale of a pimp turned rapper was based in the Bluff City. What is surprising however, is the lack of Memphis rap artists featured on Hustle and Flow‘s soundtrack.
Though newcomer Nasty Nardo and vets 8Ball & MJG and Al Kapone (who also wrote all of the lead character’s, DJay’s rhymes) make appearances, Atlanta is the city that gets the most representation on the soundtrack. It’s pretty ironic, when you consider that the crunk sound that’s made Atlanta rap’s hot spot was birthed in the M back in the late 80s and early 90s courtesy of artists like Three-Six Mafia, Gangsta Pat, DJ Spanish Fly, DJ Squeeky, Skinny Pimp and Playa Fly. That said, the release lacks the authenticity the movie attempted to capture.
T.I. provides perhaps the best song on the album with the Lil Jon produced lead single, “I’m a King (the remix).” His ego firmly in tact, he claims “Everybody wanna be the king of the south when/they aint’ runnin’ a damn thang but they mouth…”
Also included on the soundtrack are Terrence Howard‘s songs as his character DJay…“Whup That Trick,” “Hustle and Flow (It Ain’t Ovuh)” and “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” featuring Taraji P. Henson who played Shug. All of the songs are better than expected with the movie’s anthem, “Whup That Trick” emerging as the most memorable of the three.
Orange Mound natives 8Ball & MJG show up with “Tell Me Why” but don’t seem overly enthused to be rapping over the lazy pseudo-Latin percussion. Though E-40‘s on par as usual, “Pussy Niggaz” also featuring BME labelmates, BoHagen and Scrappy fails to captivate. Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Juvenile and Weebie are other notable artists included on the soundtrack although their appearances unfortunately don’t add to the overall quality of the album.
All in the all, Hustle and Flow would have benefited from a little less laziness and bit more of the Memphis sound that inspired the movie in the first place.