Judgment Night album cover
Judgment Night

Various Artists

1993
Immortal Records

This notorious soundtrack has a rep that vastly outpaces the renown of the crime flick it was attached to, and not just because the movie was nothing special. Arriving at a chronological and aesthetic midpoint somewhere between Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow the Leader and KoRn’s Follow the Leader, 1993’s Judgment Night OST took an approach to rap-rock crossover that was so deeply tangled in wouldn’t-it-be-wild-if juxtapositions that a lot of its entertainment value feels either accidentally lucky or perversely inspired. Sure, there are some gimmes, stuff that works because it’s impossible for it not to on some molecular level. The title cut’s the Q.E.D. of the whole concept: Onyx’s group-shout hooks and headbutt-impact lyrics mesh perfectly with punk/thrash/rap fusionists Biohazard, who provide as much bounce as brutality in their riffs. Ice-T, still fresh off the controversy over “Cop Killer,” sounds even more energized in swapping out his Body Count band for Slayer; all the better that it’s for the cause of a paint-peeling three-song medley of Exploited covers sering as a burst of political catharsis post-L.A. ’92. And the serrated elasticity of “Me, Myself & My Microphone” is enough to make you long for an entire album-filling session of early ’90s Run-DMC/Living Colour collabs. But it’s the left-field stuff that feels really remarkable — the teamups that flip to the other side of the rap-rock coin and get the punk/grunge axis of Alternative Nation to collide with some unlikely counterparts. De La Soul notch a deceptively-lighthearted, actually-disillusioned gem in the Teenage Fanclub-assisted Tom Petty riff “Fallin’,” Cypress Hill unsubtly coaxes out Sonic Youth’s psychedelic stoner tendencies for the indica float of “I Love You Mary Jane,” and “Freak Momma” singlehandedly justifies every last drop of ink spent hyping the Seattle scene by hitting on the counterintuitive yet hilariously effective idea of pairing the high-viscosity Stoogery of Mudhoney with the dexterous flow and twin-turbo libido of Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Nate Patrin

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