Release date: July 29, 1997
Record label: Loud
Only released on six screens, and to very little fanfare, in July 1997, the b-ball documentary Soul in the Hole was little more than a poor man's version of Hoop Dreams, chronicling a Brooklyn coach and his troubled group of talented playground ballers. If not for its jam-packed soundtrack, Soul in the Hole wouldn't have registered much beyond art-house critics' reviews. But, damn, is that soundtrack overflowing with rap royalty.
Assembled by the fine folks at the now-defunct Loud Records, the Soul in the Hole album included the lion's share of the label's best talent. Wu-Tang Clan, complete with Ol' Dirty Bastard, checked in with the nightmarishly dark "Diesel," Big Punisher proved his worth outside of the Terror Squad with "You Ain't a Killer," and The Dwellas—Loud's sadly overlooked underground duo—delivered what's arguably the soundtrack's hardest cut, "Main Aim."
Also featuring original songs by Common ("High Expectations"), Mobb Deep ("Rare Species," one of Havoc's sickest beats), and Xzibit ("Los Angeles Times"), Soul in the Hole plays more like a grade-A mixtape than anything that's related to a movie about basketball. Oddly enough, there's not one song about the sport to be heard. That's a good thing—the world didn't exactly need an update of Kurtis Blow's "Basketball" rapped by Jayo Felony.