OST OCD: 'He Got Game'

It’s been a long time since I did one of these OST posts and, truth to tell, the origin of this particular post didn’t come from the movie, but from a Buffalo Springfield song.

I heard “For What It’s Worth” the other day, which got me thinking about Public Enemy’s soundtrack for Spike Lee’s 1998 movie, He Got Game (I’ve mentioned before how my brain moves along those paths). I watched the movie once, some time ago, and, at least in my opinion, it wasn’t one of Spike Lee’s best.

The movie stars Denzel Washington and current Boston Celtic Ray Allen. The plot is basically as follows: Jesus Shuttlesworth (Allen) is an extremely talented basketball player being pursued by the top college programs in the nation. Washington's character, Jake Shuttlesworth, is a convicted felon serving time at Attica State Prison for accidentally killing his wife (Jesus’ mother). Jake is temporarily released by the governor, influential alum of one of the colleges Jesus is considering, so that he might direct his son to sign with the governor's college. (See the trailer here.)

As a longtime listener of Public Enemy, I got the soundtrack long before I saw the movie. This album reunited Professor Griff and Terminator X with Chuck D and Flavor Flav, giving the album the feel of the early PE disks. They also invited a host of guests, including Masta Killa, KRS-One, and one of the last people you’d expect to find here, Stephen Stills.

Stills stepped in to lend his voice and acoustic guitar to the title track. While the original version symbolizes the unrest of the 1960’s, this more-or-less updated version touches more on oppression: Racial oppression, political oppression, self oppression.

More than your eye can see / And ears can hear
Year by year / All the sense disappears
Nonsense perseveres / Prayers laced wit’ fear

He Got Game the soundtrack remains one of my favorite Public Enemy disks and one of only a few soundtracks that can stand on its own.

He Got Game.mp3 ~ ft. Stephen Stills
Unstoppable.mp3 ~ ft. KRS-One

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