Thursday, May 07, 2009

#31: "JUICE (KNOW THE LEDGE)"


ERIC B. & RAKIM
"JUICE (KNOW THE LEDGE)"
JUICE MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
1992

"Sip the juice, I got enough to go around." Those words are burned deep in my memory and are as poignant as any phrase in my short history. Written for the film of the same name, "Juice" and Juice the film are both strong cautionary tales of how quickly inner-city youth get swept up in the crime game. Like the film, Rakim spits of a kid on the come-up, hustling and getting caught up in that paper chase. "Juice" in song and on film is a word for power and respect. And the title of the song with "know the ledge" parenthetically is almost a call and response as to say, if you want juice, you best know the ledge or, in short, use your head 'cause nothing comes easy.

Let's be real, though, more impressive though than the lyrical content of the song is the Eric B's track. Launching into it with that paralyzing bass line and then assaulting your ears with series of saxophones, guitars, trumpets and that flute. What's remarkable about the track is that every sound, both fragment and long sample, all work toward the same rhythmic framework. Nothing distracts against the persistant, headsplitting tempo. The instrumental of "Juice" perfectly illustrates it. There's close to 15-20 individual sounds within the track and all of them are acting as a drum track. Highlighted, of course, by the chorus of deafening scratches which act in their own as snare hits. Man, they just don't make 'em like they used to.

1 comment:

K-Fleet said...

This was their last big hit. Too bad Rakim has never been able to regain his status, and even mingling with Dre didn't help.