Django Unchained had its New York City premiere last night, and like me you probably weren't there. Sorry on all our behalves, everyone! Luckily we can console ourselves with the ongoing reveals of tracks from Django's soundtrack. The latest is Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable), a mashup of James Brown's The Payback and Tupac's Untouchable. Ready for a listen?
You guys, I really want to love this. But despite the fact that James Brown and Tupac are both insanely dope, the track sounds like exactly half of awesome. Blame for that goes to Swizz Beats, who produced Untouchable for the 2006 album Pac's Life, AKA the moment when the dead horse that is Tupac's posthumous career was finally flogged into its component atoms.
Tupac was a genius, but that doesn't mean he's a cipher that can be fitted into whatever era wants him. His flow was built on bomb-squad influenced beats and g-funk. Warping his rap style around the bob-free beats that popped up in the aughts is like releasing a disco remix of Paul Whiteman's version of You're The Tops. Frankly, Untouchable is in strong contention for the absolute worst of Tupac songs.
Particularly hilarious is the fact that Swizz looped Pac to make him fit the track, so we get Tupac shouting "Y'all know me Y'a-Y'all know me" like a Shep Pettibone remix from 1988. Meanwhile, James Brown's music was tailor made for a remix like the one used to make Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable), and the combination only makes the molestation of Pac sound even worse.
I wish they'd just requested access to Pac's original vocals instead mashing up a superior song with an inferior song. Luckily, the beats and the remix of "The Payback" are great, and once you get used to how Tupac is criminally misused, you can enjoy the other more solid moments unfettered. No doubt it's going to sound even better when it plays over scenes of blood-spattered cotton fields, so I'm in.
The original Tupac track: 10 out of 100 black coffins for making one of the greatest MCs in the game sound wack.
This mashup: 80 out of 100 black coffins for proving once again that James Brown's music can always be used to make everything sound cool, despite the wackness.
The original version of "Untouchable":
[Source: A.V. Club]
READ MORE ON DJANGO UNCHAINED:
Ross Lincoln is a LA-based freelance writer from Oklahoma with an unhealthy obsession with comics, movies, video games, ancient history, Gore Vidal, and wine. Follow him on twitter (@rossalincoln).
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