Romeo Must Die – Various Artists

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

This is the long-awaited soundtrack to the new kung-fu gangster-fest from Joel “Matrix” Silver. Starring Jet Li, Isiah Washington and Delroy Lindo, it’s a “Romeo And Juliet” tale, updated to a titanic clash of Asian and Afro-American clans, set to the backdrop of Oakland, California.

The film also marks the acting debut of r n’ b songstress Aaliyah and this soundtrack album is as much a showcase of her music as it is of her r n’ b peers. Aaliyah contributes four of the 18 tracks, including the single TRY AGAIN and COME BACK IN ONE PIECE (on which she sings with her co-star in the film, rapper DMX).

I understand the film is a somersaulting, high-kicking, karate-chopping slice of high-octane ethnically-mixed action. If that’s the case, then this collection of tedious anaemic crap woefully lets it down. For a start, the music here could hardly be described as “diverse”, ethnically or otherwise. About the only hint of any Asian influence is Blade’s gimmicky oriental COME ON, which is about as Chinese as going for chicken chow mein down your local takeaway.

About the only fully decent track is the final one, Stanley Clarke and Politix’ SWUNG ON, a genuinely dangerous-sounding funked-up rap in the good old gangsta tradition. Other valiant attempts at rescuing the album from the mire of r n’ b mediocrity include Confidential’s IT REALLY DON’T MATTER and Mack 10’s THUGZ, which both attempt the same trick but only half succeed.

The rest of this is so tiresome that I now have serious misgivings about the pace of the movie. Judging by the their efforts here, it’s not just Romeo who must die.

1 star