He Got Game (soundtrack)

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He Got Game
Soundtrack album by Public Enemy
Released April 21, 1998
Genre Hardcore Hip Hop,[1] Conscious hip hop [1]
Length 48:10
Label Def Jam
Producer Abnes Dubose, The Bomb Squad, Danny Saber, D. R. Period, Jack Dangers
Public Enemy chronology
Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age
(1994)
He Got Game
(1998)
There's a Poison Goin' On
(1999)
Singles from He Got Game
  1. "He Got Game"
    Released: May 1998

He Got Game is a soundtrack and studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on April 21, 1998, by Def Jam Recordings.[2] It was released as the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 1998 film of the same name and was the group's last album for Def Jam.[3] He Got Game was produced by members of the Bomb Squad, along with producers Abnes Dubose, Danny Saber, D. R. Period, and Jack Dangers.

The album sold poorly upon its release and peaked at number 26 on the Billboard 200. Its single, the title track, charted at number 16 in the United Kingdom, where the album reached number 50. He Got Game was well received by music critics, who praised its melodic sound and Chuck D's lyrics.

Background[edit]

He Got Game served as the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 1998 basketball drama of the same name.[2] A film score of the same name, featuring music composed by Aaron Copland, was also released on April 21.[4]

After a four-year hiatus by the group,[5] Professor Griff and The Bomb Squad reunited with Public Enemy for the album, which features political, sports-derived imagery by Chuck D.[6] According to critic Armond White, He Got Game uses basketball as a metaphor for "the essence of black male aspiration. Disproving the film's suggestion of b-ball as an easy passport out of the ghetto, [Public Enemy] challenge trite assumptions about black luck and skill".[7] The album's production features backup female vocals, church-like chorales, austere beats, strings, and funk samples. The title track overtly interpolates Buffalo Springfield's 1966 song "For What It's Worth" and its vocalist Stephen Stills.[8] It was released as He Got Game's only single in May 1998.[3]

Commercial performance[edit]

He Got Game debuted at number 26 on the US Billboard 200 chart on May 11, 1998, and sold 46,282 copies in its first week.[9] Despite hip hop music's increased commercial viability at the time, the album had fallen out of the top 100 by July.[10] In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Robert Hilburn opined that its "relatively lackluster showing" with consumers was due to Public Enemy's image and lyrical content rather than the album's quality:

Rap audiences tend to be young and want their own heroes. For all its respect, PE is associated with another era in rap. The music, too, may be too restrained for the thug-life tone favored by today's mass rap audience.[10]

In the United Kingdom, He Got Game peaked at number 50 on the UK Albums Chart, while the title track reached number 16 on the singles chart; it did not chart on the US Hot 100.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution A–[11]
Chicago Sun-Times 4/4 stars[12]
Robert Christgau A[8]
Detroit Free Press 3/4 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly B+[13]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[14]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[15]
Spin 8/10[7]

He Got Game was well received by music critics.[16] In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, Scott Poulson-Bryant called the album "dense and eclectic, brilliant at moments but sometimes confusing," and found Chuck D to be "inspired again, coming up with blues poetry for the hoops age."[15] Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club felt that, despite occasionally uninformed "lyrical snippets", most of the album has "the sense of urgency and menace that characterized PE's best work ... and the reformed Bomb Squad's sound has expanded in some interesting directions."[17]

In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim DeRogatis called He Got Game "as hard-hitting as anything PE has done" and said that the group "nods to current tastes with more melodic hooks and less white noise than it has offered in the past."[12] Music critic Robert Christgau credited Chuck D for realizing "the soundtrack concept" and viewed that, although only the Danny Saber and Jack Dangers-produced "Go Cat Go" resembles "the stressful speed of classic PE", the hooks are appropriated "subtly" and "brilliantly".[18] Christgau named it the eighth best album of the year in his list for The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[19]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Resurrection" (composed by Chuck D, Masta Killa, DR Period, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee) – 4:20
    • Produced by D. R. Period, Hank Shocklee, and Keith Shocklee; featuring Masta Killa
  2. "He Got Game" (Chuck D, Stephen Stills) – 4:46
  3. "Unstoppable" (Chuck D, Gary G-Wiz, KRS-One) – 3:14
    • Produced by Gary G-Wiz; featuring KRS-One
  4. "Shake Your Booty" (Leon Huff, Ron McNair) – 3:45
    • Produced by D. R. Period, Hank Shocklee, and Keith Shocklee
  5. "Is Your God a Dog" (Corey Brewer, Chuck D, Abnes Dubose) – 5:08
    • Produced by Abnes (Abnormal) Dubose and Corey Brewer
  6. "House of the Rising Son" (Chuck D, Pete Townshend, Kerwin Young) – 3:16
    • Produced by Kerwin Young and Gary G-Wiz
  7. "Revelation 3313 Revolutions" (Chuck D) – 4:11
    • Produced by Minnesota, Hank Shocklee, and Keith Shocklee
  8. "Game Face" (Smoothe Da Hustler, Monty Norman) – 3:17
    • Produced by D. R. Period, Hank Shocklee, and Keith Shocklee; featuring Smoothe da Hustler
  9. "Politics of the Sneaker Pimps" (Chuck D, Gary G-Wiz) – 3:16
    • Produced by Gary G-Wiz
  10. "What You Need Is Jesus" (Chuck D, Gary G-Wiz) – 3:29
    • Produced by Gary G-Wiz
  11. "Super Agent" (Chuck D, Abnes Dubose) – 3:35
    • Produced by Abnes (Abnormal) Dubose
  12. "Go Cat Go" (Chuck D, Jack Dangers, Danny Saber) – 3:48
    • Produced by Danny Saber and Jack Dangers
  13. "Sudden Death (Interlude)" (Kerwin Young) – 2:04
    • Produced by Kerwin Young

Personnel[edit]

Credits for He Got Game adapted from Allmusic.[20]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[3] 50
US Billboard 200[21] 26
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[21] 10

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.allmusic.com/album/he-got-game-mw0000035394
  2. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "He Got Game". Allmusic. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Strong 2004, p. 1227.
  4. ^ "He Got Game: The Music of Aaron Copland (Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Allmusic. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Floyd, Mike (May 1, 1998). "Sound Check". Detroit Free Press. 
  6. ^ Harrington, Richard (April 29, 1998). "It's a Rap: Soundtracks From the 'Hood". The Washington Post. Style section, p. D.05. Retrieved June 11, 2013.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b White, Armond (August 1998). "Reviews". Spin (New York): 137–8. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Christgau 2000, p. 255.
  9. ^ Farber, Jim. The Next Wave at No.1 'Titanic' Soundtrack Yields to Top Berth to Dave Matthews. New York Daily News. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  10. ^ a b Hilburn, Robert (July 5, 1998). "Is Anyone Out There Really Listening?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Sound Shopping". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. April 28, 1998. Thursday Living section, p. C02. Retrieved June 11, 2013.  (subscription required)
  12. ^ a b DeRogatis, Jim (May 10, 1998). "Spin Control". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  13. ^ Diehl, Matt (1998-05-01). Review: He Got Game. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  14. ^ Johnson, Brett. Review: He Got Game. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  15. ^ a b Poulson-Bryant, Scott (1998-05-07). "Public Enemy: He Got Game : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Biography: Public Enemy. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  17. ^ Phipps, Keith. Review: He Got Game. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  18. ^ Christgau 2000, p. 256.
  19. ^ "Pazz & Jop 1998: Dean's List". The Village Voice (New York). March 2, 1999. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ Credits: He Got Game. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.
  21. ^ a b Billboard Albums: He Got Game. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-01-08.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]