Boyz n the Hood is one of the most iconic films of the 1990s, a coming of age movie that tells the story of three friends growing up in early 90s South Central L.A. And while the characters, plot and themes are a big part of what makes the movie so iconic, but don't sleep on how big the soundtrack was in 1991.
Coming on the heels of House Party and New Jack City, urban film soundtracks were becoming a big deal for fans; and Boyz... built on the template that those two movies set--and what many other films, from Boomerang to Above the Rim, would continue to do for the remainder of the 1990s. With tracks that range from gritty West Coast gangsta rap (courtesy of Ice Cube, Compton's Most Wanted and Kam) to East Coast boom bap (Main Source and Chubb Rock make appearances) to R&B hits from Tony! Toni! Tone! and Tevin Campbell, this was a snapshot of urban music circa 1991.
So in celebration of the iconic film's 25th anniversary--here are our picks for the five best songs from Boyz N the Hood.
"Just Ask Me To" Tevin Campbell
This lighthearted bit of teen New Jack Swing was the third big hit for burgeoning young star Tevin Campbell. Coming off his smash "Round & Round" from the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack a year earlier, the 14 year old scored again with this catchy track that also featured Chubb Rock and K-Ci and Jo-Jo of Jodeci.
"Growin' Up In the Hood" Compton's Most Wanted
One of the most recognizable voices in hip-hop, MC Eiht first emerged as a prominent rhymer in Compton's Most Wanted. The group's biggest hit was this single, which served as an unofficial theme song for Boyz N the Hood, a trick Eiht would pull off again two years later with "Streiht Up Menace" from the soundtrack for Menace II Society.
"Just Me and You"Tony! Toni! Tone!
Tony! Toni! Tone! had broken through big with their second album The Revival in 1990, and the trio of Raphael Saadiq, D'Wayne Wiggins and Timothy Christian Riley laced John Singleton's coming of age film with a sweet ode to young love. One of their best ballads.
"How To Survive In South Central" Ice Cube
Boyz N the Hood marked the first film appearance for Ice Cube, and on the soundtrack, he delivered one of his most unapologetic odes to his home turf. "How To Survive..." as the title suggests, is an outsider's guide to one of the most notorious locales in the country.
"Black On Black Crime"Stanley Clarke
Haunting and hypnotic, this iconic instrumental from bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke served as the musical core for Boyz N the Hood. The tune gave added resonance to a film that clearly packed an emotional wallop; and Clarke scored Boyz... in it's entirety. Clarke would take home a BMI Award for his work in 1992.