Various Artists – “Judas & the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album” review

This is a brand new soundtrack album curated by California producer, rapper & singer/songwriter Hit-Boy. Coming up in the late 2000s under the wing of Polow da Don, he eventually become an in-house producer for the Kanye West-owned Def Jam Recordings imprint G.O.O.D. Music from 2011 to 2013 before forming his own label HS87 Music distributed by Interscope Records. But it goes without saying that 2020 was Hit-Boy’s biggest year yet, starting off when he entirely produced Nas’ latest full-length outing King’s Disease in it’s entirety in late August. This would result in a 3-peat for Hit-Boy, as he went on to produce nearly half of Big Sean’s last album Detroit 2 a couple weeks later & then lacing Benny the Butcher’s sophomore effort Burden of Proof from front to back a little over a month after. But to accompany the universally acclaimed political drama Judas & the Black Messiah hitting HBO Max & select theaters, the West Coast producer has amassed an all-star cast of performers to make music inspired by the motion picture.

After the 3-minute spoken word intro “COINTELPRO / DEC. 4” by Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., the first song “Fight for You” by H.E.R. talks about freedom over a glossy yet funky beat whereas the next song “EPMD” by Nas gets in his Escobar bag over an more aggressive instrumental from Hit-Boy himself. The song “Welcome to America” by Black Thought talks about dreaming as long as you’re breathing in the U.S. over a tribal beat from Sean C while the track “What It Feels Like” by JAY-Z & the late Nipsey Hu$$le talks about success over an instrumental with an ambitious atmosphere to it.

The song “Broad Day” by Hit-Boy talks about A&Ring the game over an angelic beat while the track “Plead the .45th” by Saba & Smino talks about remaining silent over a colorless instrumental. The song “Something Ain’t Right” by J.I.D & Rapsody talks about corruption over a calming beat from Cardiak while the track “Letter 2 U” by BJ the Chicago Kid asks to set this woman’s soul on fire over a tactile instrumental.

The song “On Your Mind” by Lil Durk gets confessional over a trap beat with some wonderful keyboard arpeggios while the track “Appraise” by White Dave talks about being the last hope over a cloudy instrumental. The song “All Black” by G Herbo talks about poppin’ out over some celebratory horn sections from Turbo while the track “I Declare War” by Nado Wick gets violent over an drugged-out instrumental from Cardo.

The song “No Profanity” by Pooh Shiesty perfectly lives up to it’s name as he talks about standing on what he believes in without cussing over a sumptuous trap beat while the track “Last Man Standing” by Polo G talks about leading Chicago the way Fred Hampton did over a wretched instrumental. The song “Respect My Mind” by Dom Kennedy talks about rising to the challenges over a hair-raising beat while the track “Revolutionary” by G Herbo & Bump J talks about “standing like a man” over a beautiful vocal sample laced throughout the instrumental.

The song “Teach Me” by SiR talks about having the wrong idea of love over a holy beat while the track “Contagious” by SAFE & Liana Ledé is a cliché romance duet carried by the spicy instrumental. The song “Rich N***a Problems” by A$AP Rocky details the cons of being wealthy over a jazzy trap beat & after the “J.A.T.B.M”. outro, the bonus cut “Black Messiah” by Rakim is essentially Fred Hampton’s life on wax backed by a soul sample from The God MC himself.

This is hands down the best soundtrack album I’ve heard in a while. I mean I’m not too big on soundtrack albums this day in age & I made that pretty clear when I gave a positive review towards the Conflicted soundtrack last month, but I consider this to be the Black Panther soundtrack on steroids from the guests & production to the subject matter.

Score: 4/5

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