Soundtrack Review: Django Unchained

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Django Unchained Soundtrack

Before you read this: DON’T WORRY. I’m not going to go on and on… about the “so-called” controversy this film has caused through its use of the dreaded “N-word.” If Spike Lee has such an issue with a white man making a pro-black film, he’s clearly too blind to see the irony of his own issue.

Tarantino has always wanted to pay homage to the cowboys, and has finally done so in Django Unchained — a Spaghetti western set in America’s pre-Civil War Deep South. Calling it “a southern” rather than “a Western,” Tarantino stated that he wanted “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery, but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies.” In addition, Tarantino has also gone on to say that he “want[ed] to do them like they’re genre films, but deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it.”

While this incorporation of the Western genre in Tarantino’s films and their respective soundtracks is nothing new, Django Unchained recently showed us how Tarantino’s head-on approach can definitely have epic results!

When listening to the soundtrack for the feature-film, it is important to note that half of the songs are from pre-existing Western films. One of such songs — the main theme to be exact — was stated to have been taken from the 60s film, Django, and is quite fitting as it screams of the quintessential Western in its use of Native American pan pipes and powerfully projected vocals.

On the flip-side of this, the movie is also quick to include funk, soul, and old school R&B with such duly noted singles like, “His Name Was King” and John Legend‘s showstopper, “Who Did That To You.” Most notably though, it was Frank Ocean‘s poetic single “Wiseman” that has brought in the greatest deal of attention thanks to Ocean‘s smooth and always passionate vocals.

“100 Black Coffins,” also a song written for the film, is an amazing mix of Western and rap. Performed by Rick Ross, it was produced by and features none other than Django himself; the versatile Jamie Foxx. The combination of rap and iconic western whistling intensifies the film with Foxx stating, “back in the day, when you whistle in Westerns, that meant it was on.”

Oddly enough though, the greatest instance of rap comes in the form of a surprise “collaboration” (if you can call it that) between the brilliant James Brown and 2Pac in, “Unchained (The Payback / Untouchable).”

With the big-time productions aside though, we can’t help but notice that this is the first time Tarantino has had original tracks written for one of his films. Because of this, the film —  while already highly regarded in its own right — becomes all that much better than the rest of the high-budget movies being tossed around these days as it usefully brings the story together.

It’s this obsession with assessing every detail of his movies that has helped Quentin Tarantino make a name for himself in the directoral world. Whether he’s assessing every angle to a shot, or going out of his way to pull together the greatest lineup of musicians for his soundtracks, the man has everything sorted out. So, if you haven’t already seen the film, I highly suggest you do so now. More importantly though, if you have yet to listen to the  amazing soundtrack that goes along with the film, I can only suggest you listen to it below and try to avoid kicking yourself for having not listened to it sooner.

9 out of 10

Matt Pendrill

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