Elicit 1997 … with the ‘Men In Black’ Soundtrack

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The soundtrack to Men in Black is probably not an album that anyone would think to be significant.  However, in the 90s, soundtracks to blockbuster movies were a big deal.  Of course, you probably remember the title track and lead single by Will Smith…

Not exactly 1997’s finest moment, nevertheless, it was a huge success and an overall fun song.  However, the Columbia Records helmed soundtrack did boast contributions from Nas, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Ginuwine, The Roots, Trey Lorenz (Mariah Carey’s background singer, see: “I’ll Be There”), A Tribe Called Quest, and the debut songs of Destiny’s Child and Alicia Keys (who was, at the time, signed to Columbia Records).

It is a pretty impressive list of artists, and interestingly enough, all those listed above are still active and relevant today, 17 years later (well, for Trey Lorenz, still as Mariah’s background singer, but there’s no shame in that!); albeit one of the acts may or may not have changed species.

Destiny’s Child’s contribution to the soundtrack is a ballad, “Killing Time,” which, in my opinion, is quite an odd choice for the Men In Black soundtrack.  However, I do love the song.  Beyoncé gives an impressively mature and sensual  lead vocal performance for a 15-going-on-16 year old, while Kelly, LeToya and LaTavia provide  gorgeous harmonies as we came to expect of Destiny’s Child.   Of course, “Killing Time” definitely wasn’t going to kick start their career, but luckily, “No, No, No Part 2” followed a few months later.

Meanwhile, on “Dah Dee Dah (Sexy Thing)” the world met a 16 year old Alicia Keys, riding a sexy, funky R&B mid tempo track.  At the time, she was signed to Columbia via a deal with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Records.  However, Alicia eventually left the label and signed with Clive Davis.  We didn’t hear any new music from Alicia until her 2001 debut album, Songs in A Minor.  

Overall, the soundtrack is what you’d expect – a collection of standard, mid-90s R&B and hip-hop.  Perhaps I’m biased, but the introduction to two of R&B’s leading female acts, before they grew up and blew up, is the high point of the soundtrack for me.  Side note: Mariah Carey has collaborated (in some capacity) with 7 of the 14 artists featured on the soundtrack.

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