Southpaw, a film directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Jake Gyllenhall that tells the story of a boxer who tries to get his life and career back on track, features a soundtrack executively produced by Eminem. Released through Shady Records, and featuring new music from Shady himself, as well as some Bad Meets Evil cuts and tracks from Slaughterhouse, Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ amongst others. This is the second soundtrack release by Shady Records, the first, obviously, being 8 Mile, and it's a markedly different sound; it fits the film's theme with its triumphant, powerful and energetic hip-hop soundtrack.
Kings Never Die, which features Gwen Stefani and is produced by DJ Khalil, is an emphatic track from Eminem. It follows Cry For Love (Part 1), composed by James Horner who scored the film and sadly died in June this year in a plane crash. Shady's staccato flow over the strikingly polished production is delivered excellently; the track isn't especially raw or gritty, but the pride and the passion on show lend themselves both to the sport of boxing, and the sport of rap. The following track Beast, by Rob Bailey & The Hustle Standard, featuring talented lyricists Busta Rhymes, KXNG Crooked and Tech N9ne, is a high octane ride, with convincingly decisive flows from each MC.
The crisp What About The Rest Of Us, by Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ and featuring the talented singer/producer Rico Love, is successful. The punchy live drum sound and the overall subtlety in the production of the track make it professional and enjoyable, and Action and Joey bring that authentic east coast flavour. Slaughterhouse most definitely turn up for R.N.S. A dramatic and intense slow-paced Araab Muzik and Just Blaze production backs the supergroup, comprised of Royce Da 5'9", KXNG Crooked, Joe Budden and Joell Ortiz, as they drop passionate verses demonstrating a variety of flows and impactful deliveries.
The rapid speed and technical complexity of Royce Da 5'9" and Eminem's verses on the Bad Meets Evil track All I Think About sound great over the electronic, yet also pretty funky production, which is handled by Em and Luis Resto. The confident and braggadocios lyrics are convincing, and the rhyme schemes are consistently good. Phenomenal, another solo track from Shady, is anthemic and textured, both with its intense production and the multisyllabic and motivational writing. He has become convincing and believable when tackling concepts like this, and both the song and the artist's parallels with Southpaw's protagonist Billy Hope are clear.
The Southpaw soundtrack is an impressive collection of songs. The majority of them are given their first release on this soundtrack, but the sublime Wicked Games by The Weeknd and the classic Notorious B.I.G. And Bone Thugs-N-Harmony collaboration Notorious Thugs are excellent additional choices. With an overarching theme of overcoming obstacles and self-belief, but with enough rawness to avoid any clichés, this is definitely worth a look.