Soundtracks tend to vary on a scale of bad to awful, but the soundtrack to Above the Rim accomplishes that rare feat of being comparable, or even better, than the accompanying film. Described by All Music as an example of how all soundtracks should sound, it consists of a collection of some of the best sounds from the hip-hop and urban R&B scenes of the ’90s. Here’s how we rank all the songs from the Above the Rim soundtrack in order of greatness.
21. Didn’t Mean to Turn You On – 2nd II None
They weren’t around for long, but 2nd II None still left their imprint thanks to hip-hop gold like this little nugget from the Above the Rim soundtrack.
20. Hoochies Need Love Too – Paradise
On such a male-dominated soundtrack, Paradise’s girl-power anthem comes as a breath of fresh air.
19. Part Time Lover – H-Town
This R&B classic from H-Town gave the group a top ten hit on the R&B charts when it was released as a single from the Above the Rim soundtrack.
18. Blowed Away – B-Rezell
B-Rezell didn’t stick around for long, but before he faded into obscurity, he contributed this red hot hip-hop slow burner to the Above the Rim soundtrack.
17. Mi Monie Rite! – Lord G
Lord G’s Mi Monie Rite! didn’t make it to the first version of the soundtrack released on cassette, but fortunately, it did manage to grab a spot on the CD deluxe version.
16. Crack ‘Em – O.F.T.B.
L.A.-based hip-hop group O.F.T.B. contributed to numerous soundtracks in the ’90s, including Gridlock’d and Gang Related. It was their 1994 song, Crack ‘Em, that made the grade for the Above the Rim soundtrack.
15. It’s Not Deep Enough – Jewel
Jewell made two contributions to the Above the Rim soundtrack, one with Aaron Hall and one, It’s Not Deep Enough, with nothing but her creamy vocals and a pulsating beat for company.
14. Anything – SWV
Anything was originally recorded by R&B trio SWV for their debut studio album, It’s About Time, but was later remixed for the Above the Rim soundtrack. Released in 1994, it gave the group their fifth top forty hit when it peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
13. U Bring da Dog Out – Rhythm & Knowledge
’90s throwbacks don’t come much better than this hot and steamy tune from Rhythm & Knowledge, which was written specifically for the Above the Rim soundtrack.
12. I’m Still In Love With You – Al B. Sure!
He might have gone quiet over the last 10 years, but back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Al B. Sure! was one of the most popular figures on the new jack swing scene. Here, he breathes fresh life into the Al Green classic, I’m Still in Love with You.
11. Big Pimpin’ – Tha Dogg Pound
Internal troubles might have pulled The Dogg Pound apart, but at least they left us with hip hop classics like Big Pimpin’.
10. Old Time’s Sake – Sweet Sable
Old Time’s Sake was originally released as a single titled Friends (For Old Time Sake) from Ceybil Jefferies’ second studio album Open Your Heart. It became a hit, reaching number 2 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart and No. 15 on the Billboard R&B chart. The remixed version using the shortened title Old Time’s Sake is included on the Above the Rim soundtrack under Jefferies’ stage name, Sweet Sable.
9. Jus So Ya No – CPO Boss Hogg
After starting his career as a member of the hip-hop group Capital Punishment Organization, CPO Boss Hogg, went solo, gifting us with heaps of classic ’90s hip-hop gems like the irresistible Jus So Ya No.
8. Doggie Style – D.J. Rogers
If your playlist is short on essential ’90s hip-hop, this slinky, deeply seductive track from the Above the Rim soundtrack could be exactly what you need.
7. Gonna Give It to Ya – Jewell feat. Aaron Hall
These days, Aaron Hall is a personal dog trainer, but back in the 1990s, he was hitting the charts with the new jack swing group Guy. Here, he teams up with Jewell on a track recorded specifically for the Above the Rim soundtrack.
6. Afro Puffs – The Lady of Rage feat. Snoop Dogg
Released as the second single from the Above the Rim soundtrack, Afro Puffs took the Lady of Rage and Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was still going by back then) to number 5 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.
5. Pour Out a Little Liquor – 2Pac & Thug Life
Thug Life only released one album, but the hip-hop landscape would be a very different place without it. Six months after Pour Out a Little Liquor debuted on the Above the Rim soundtrack, it took a starring role on Thug Life: Volume 1.
4. Dogg Pound 4 Life – Tha Dogg Pound
Tha Dogg Pound made two contributions to the Above the Rim, Big Pimpin’ and the sublime, hard-driving Dogg Pound 4 Life.
3. Loyal to the Game – 2Pac feat. Treach & Riddler
Loyal to the Game later appeared on 2Pac’s posthumous album of the same name in 2004, but film fans had already been aware of its genius thanks to its inclusion on the Above the Rim soundtrack.
2. Pain – 2Pac feat. Stretch
Dr. Dre initially didn’t want to include 2Pac’s Pain in Above the Rim, but Norman Whitfield Jr., the recording engineer, insisted. It was the right call, with the hip-hop classic serving as an essential part of the film, particularly in the scene in which 2Pac’s character Birdie is killed.
1. Regulate – Nate Dogg & Warren G
Released as the first single from the Above the Rim soundtrack, Regulate quickly established itself as a hip-hop staple after it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, giving both Nate Dogg & Warren G the biggest chart hit of their careers. It’s since been selected to both VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and Pitchfork’s “Top 200 Tracks of the 90s”.