Release dates: Vol. 1, March 28, 1995; Vol. 2, April 11, 1995
Record label: Tommy Boy
In the annals of hood flicks, New Jersey Drive is rarely, if ever, placed alongside the almighty trinity of Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, and Juice. Given a fresh look today, the film—produced by Spike Lee—holds up as a raw, unflinching look at the car-jacking subculture that struck fear in Garden State residents throughout the '90s. Even if cinema's history books never award New Jersey Drive its proper respect, the filmmakers can always take comfort in the fact that their movie has a much better soundtrack than those aforementioned classics.
An epic collection of a who's who in 1990s hip-hop, the two-disc New Jersey Drive OST—released on two separate days, a la Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill flicks—made it simple for discerning fans to pick and choose. For the softer crowd, Volume 1 mixed in R&B, with Total's timeless "Can't You See" (featuring the Notorious B.I.G.) standing out amidst smooth rap tracks like Outkast's exceptional "Benz or Beamer" and Ill Al Skratch's (damn, remember them?) "Don't Shut Down on a Player."
The second volume, though, is where the real heat existed. At its best, the straight rap edition of New Jersey Drive captured the furious anger of kids pushing against authority, from Jeru the Damaja's strong anti-cop banger "Invasion" to the conceptual, in-the-mind-of-a-dirty-officer highlight "You Won't Go Far," a tag-team from O.C. and Organized Konfusion.