A lineup pairing Eve with Fatboy Slim, Cypress Hill with Roni Size, and Ice Cube with Paul Oakenfold would be a stroke of genius for a “Celebrity Death Match” promoter. But instead of duking it out in the ultimate hip-hop/electronica showdown, these artists have joined forces on Immortal Records’ latest offering, Blade II – the soundtrack.
This project is the brainchild of Immortal founder Happy Walters, but while these collaborations are interesting to say the least, they are not unique to Blade II. Walters has attempted this musical alchemy, with varying degrees of success, on two other soundtracks. In 1994, Judgment Night combined hard rock heavyweights with hip hop masters. The movie flopped; the soundtrack went double-platinum. In 1997, Walters teamed hard rock acts with electronica artists in Spawn, which left only one natural variant for his latest project: hip hop and electronica.
On the surface it’s difficult to decide whether this musical fusion is truly inspired or merely a nifty gimmick. After listening to the album, it is even harder to decide.
One’s first response is to skip through the tracks; more interested in what the pairings will sound like than whether the songs are any good. (Like a child with a Mr. Potato Head toy, fascinated by the innumerable permutations.) Some of the less challenging marriages, such as Redman and Gorillaz, produce interesting sounds. But, ultimately, it is the electronica fans who miss out with Blade II.
The heavy rapping vocals drown out any subtler nuances that electronica highbrows Groove Armada or Paul Oakenfold might offer. I mean honestly, when you pit Bubba Sparxxx against The Crystal Method, who’s your money on? The pasty, emaciated club boys haven’t got a chance.