July 9 in Hip-Hop History: ‘Boyz N The Hood,’ OutKast, Mary J. Blige + More
Today's rundown of throwback Hip-hop and R&B history includes the release of the soundtrack to Ice Cube's big Hollywood debut, Mary J. Blige teaming up with Lauryn Hill, and OutKast taking a big step towards creative independence.
July 9, 1991: The Boyz n the Hood Soundtrack Is Released
On this day in 1991, the soundtrack to John Singleton's film Boyz n the Hood came out. Topping the R&B Albums chart, it consisted mostly of West Coast hip-hop (Ice Cube, Compton's Most Wanted, Too Short, Yo-Yo), but also featured some East Coast sounds (Main Source), R&B (Tevin Campbell and Tony! Toni! Toné!, both of whom had hits from the soundtrack, and Hi-Five) and jazz (Quincy Jones and Stanley Clarke). The 1991 film launched the acting career of Cube, who played Doughboy, and he was surprised that it even got made in the first place.
"When I first read it, I couldn’t believe that they were going to make a movie about how we grew up," he told Bill Simmons. "I’m like, ‘Is this movie-worthy?’ Because when you [live] in it, you don’t think nobody give a damn about you or what’s happening to you or what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis. So to see Columbia [Pictures] want to put money behind a movie about what you live every day … I was just curious. Like, ‘Why?’ I just didn’t believe our story was movie-worthy."
July 9, 1996: OutKast Take Control With "Elevators (Me & You)"
On this day in 1996, OutKast gave the world the first glimpse of their second album, ATLiens, with the single "Elevators (Me & You)." Associate producer Mr. DJ said that it was watching Organized Noize up close on Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik that taught him, Andre 3000 and Big Boi to make their own beats, and "when we finally got a little money, everybody bought music equipment and just started emulating Organized Noize," he told Complex.
"I can remember Dre doing that beat, and we were actually on tour when he was working on it," he continued. "We had equipment hooked up on the tour bus, and Dre had his stuff hooked up in the back of the bus and we rode around with 'Elevators' for a long time—it was like a lot of little versions of it Dre kept playing on the bus. And when we got back to Atlanta, that was the first song that Earthtone III recorded ourselves, produced ourselves, and that was the start of us producing the rest of the albums. We kind of knew that 'Elevators' was going to be something special. It's not a super complicated beat, but it resonates. Sometimes less is more."
July 9, 1996: An Angry Prince Unleashes Chaos and Disorder
The same day "Elevators (Me & You) dropped, Prince released Chaos and Disorder. Arriving at the height of the period when he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, it was billed as his last effort for Warner Bros., with whom he was feuding. According to Albumism, 40 percent of the record were outtakes from Come and The Gold Experience albums, and the guitar-heavy funk-rock found in the grooves reflect his anger at the label. It's evident on the closer "Had U," the video for "The Same December" and, most directly, on the album cover, which featured a smashed vinyl copy of 1999.
July 9, 1999: Mary J. Blige Teams Up With Lauryn Hill
Three years later, Mary J. Blige put out "All That I Can Say," the lead single from her fourth studio album, Mary. The Grammy-nominated track was written and produced by Lauryn Hill, who told Queen Latifah that it was "an honor" to work with her.
"She was very, very special to me, and special for me," she said. "And I think that she never tried to cover up who she was or hide the pain -- even though you may put on shades and think that's covering it up, we always felt it through her music and songs, she always sang with that deep feeling."
July 9, 2001: Wyclef Jean Falls in Love With a Stripper
In 2001, Wyclef Jean gave us the third single from The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book, "Perfect Gentleman." It's sung from the perspective of a man who has fallen in love with a stripper, and wants to give her a better life. Hope Harris gives voice to the woman, bragging, "I could flex in 25 positions / But I only work here to pay my tuition." It was a No. 4 hit in the U.K., but did not reach the pop chart in the U.S.
July 9, 2002: Styles P Goes Solo with A Gangster and a Gentleman
Styles P broke free from the Lox with the 2002 release of A Gangster and a Gentleman. On the strength of the weed-friendly hit single "Good Times," the album peaked at No. 6 and was certified gold. "I remember just trying to deliver a strong, solid East Coast album, with me just breaking down basically who I am, because it was my introduction to the game," he told XXL. "I didn’t realize it would be that big of a success numbers-wise. I did expect it to have a certain effect on anybody who knew what I was talking about and knew what angle I was coming from. I expected to get feedback from the underground and real hip-hop lovers. I didn't expect it to cross over. I didn't expect any of it to be mainstream, or 'Good Times' to have the effect it had. That wasn’t the plan. Just making pothead anthems is something I do."
July 9, 2002: Onyx Learn the Sad Truth About Sequels
Nearly a decade after Onyx turned heads with Bacdafucup and the smash hit "Slam," they came back in 2002 for the sequel. From its nearly identical cover art (although they were now a trio with the departure of Big DS, who passed away in 2003) to its single "Slam Harder," Bacdafucup Part II was a clear attempt to recapture the magic of the original album. However, as several reviews pointed out, it lacked the urgency that made the first record so special, and became their lowest-charting effort at the time.
July 9, 1986: Welcome to the World, Kiely Williams!
On July 9, 1986, Kiely Williams was born in Alexandria, Va. As a teenager, she rose to fame with Adrienne Bailon and Naturi Naughton as 3LW and the hit single "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)." Naughton left in 2002, with Williams and Bailon going on to star in the film The Cheetah Girls and its sequels. Since then, Williams has focused largely on her acting career.