Music by: Various Artists
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the movie Pariah, Adepero Oduye is Alike, a 17-year-old African American woman living with her parents and younger sister in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, New York. A good student with a flair for poetry, Alike thrives at her local high school, but Alike is harboring a secret. She is a lesbian. Although firm in who she is, Alike is loathe to put further strain on her parents already tense relationship. Still, she yearns to confide in her family regarding newfound relationships. Pariah is the story of a teenager who manages to get through some of the more trying years in an individual’s life with spirit, humor and dignity.
The soundtrack of Pariah is a rather mixed bag of styles featuring rap, R&B, hip-hop and even some rock. The album features artists such as Khia, emoniFela, Sparlha Swa, Tamar-kali, Kandi Cole and more. Opening with My Neck, My Back by Khia, the Pariah Soundtrack immediately hit a negative chord with me. I’m not someone you would consider a prude, but this particular song is, in my opinion, so explicit as to be in poor taste. Opening things with this song could have turned me away from the album altogether, but I pride myself on being objective when it comes to this stuff, so I kept listening.
I’m happy I did. The following song , Shut Up by emoniFela, made up for the first. Shut Up should be the new teenage anthem as the singer angrily expounds about the stereotype of being young. Just because she is young doesn’t mean she doesn’t have something intelligent to say and she wants people to “shut up” and listen to her when she’s talking. What an awesome song! Follow this up with Doin My Thing by Sparlha Swa which, along with Do You by Kandi Cole, refreshingly encourages people to follow their own unique path and refrain from copying others styles and tastes.
So, despite my annoyance with the album’s opening track, I found the Pariah Soundtrack to be quite a diverse and enjoyable listen. The songs chosen are reflective of the main character of the film and the issues she faces. The rap on the album is reminiscent of the poetry written by Alike in the movie, and therefore representative of her style. The soundtrack is enjoyable as a stand alone album, but when one realizes the depth and meaning of the film, it become apparent that much thought and care went into the song selection so that it would best fit the film. The Pariah Soundtrack is definitely worth taking a listen to, but be forewarned about the explicit lyrics.