Hip Hop and film have had a sordid history, to say the least. While there have been some triumphs (Menace II Society, Juice, 8 Mile), most results have been far less than desirable (Killa Season, Soul Plane, Waist Deep). Blame it on hilariously bad acting, low budgets or a myriad of other reasons; the fact is, many Hip Hop fans are wary of the marriage between their favorite music and Hollywood.

Part Romeo & Juliet and part Belly, A Day In The Life’s soundtrack has been advertised as playing out the exact way that the movie does – with every single word rapped (unlike musicals, which have room for dialogue). Such an undertaking requires incredible commitment, but the soundtrack does indeed exclusively feature rhyming the whole way through. Given that many of the performers enlisted – including Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Rapaport and others – aren’t rappers by trade, the results are actually better than expected.

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Songs like “Can You Hear Me,” which is centered on a heated phone conversation, are executed with complete fluidity. You can honestly forget that you’re listening to people rap during certain points in the soundtrack – a testament to how well the album flows at parts. One such example is “The Preacher,” depicting a scene in the film where one of the characters, feeling that praying for forgiveness is futile, is convinced by a preacher to not turn his back on God:

Dear God, my nigga, you gotta help me/ I know I said I quit the game when I was wealthy…You don’t know what this world do to you/ You don’t know what this world do to you/ The last time I was in church was a funeral/ You can’t hear me, why fool myself?/ I’m alone in this world, talking to myself/ (Believe me my brother, he hears every syllable) What?/ (You look troubled, like there’s something killing you)…(These streets, they can eat you alive)/(It’s a shame what you gotta do just to survive)/ First you gotta know about the hood to be my teacher/ (Well, son, I wasn’t always a preacher)/ (I’ve been in the game, I’ve been in the prison)/ Word? (Just livin’ in pain, with an addiction)/ (Did a few things where people was missin’)

Unfortunately, not all performances on the soundtrack will garner such acclaim. The worst culprit is easily Melinda Santiago’s role as Heaven, the protagonist’s girlfriend. Not only are her lines laughable, but she essentially plays to every cliché of the “down-ass-chick” ever conceived. Similarly amateurish is Faizon Love’s depiction of drug kingpin Black – again fitting right into a caricature of a role. These, and a few other roles, serve only to detract from otherwise above-average-to-good performances.

The project’s artist merits as a whole are certainly evident. It’s clear Sticky Fingaz [click to read] put in tremendous effort to not only tell an absorbing tale, but also make a legitimate album (two-disc, no less). Even strictly as a piece of music, A Day In The Life holds its own. The production almost always fits the situations very well – check the delectable piece of audio-noir on “I’m Dead” for a perfect example. The rhymes can’t really be evaluated in the typical fashion, as complex rhyme schemes and flows would feel unnatural in telling the story. Really, the value in the rapping on this album is found in the storytelling, and in that respect, they are stellar. As a bonus, Onyx throws a quartet of nice tracks on the end (“Debo The Game” [click to listen] is a Sticky Fingaz solo cut), which can be thought of as the closing credits for a very entertaining audio flick.

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It’s easy to approach Sticky FingazA Day In The Life OST with the skepticism usually associated with this type of project. But anyone familiar with Sticky’s music knows that the rapper – along with his Onyx brethren – are true craftsmen. It’s because of this that A Day In The Life largely succeeds where other Hip Hop film projects have failed. The product is far from perfect, but for the most part, it is an engrossing experience that draws the listener in.