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Review: Richard Rich & Max Tannone – Selene by ymatto
March 17, 2011, 10:14 am
Filed under: hip-hop, Review | Tags: , , ,

Hip-hop, for all its popular reputation for being the music of gangstaz and pimps, has a seriously geeky undercurrent.  If you scratch it deep, it bleeds kung-fu, comic books, and science-fiction.  Even when it’s not as explicit as the Wu-Tang clan, MF DOOM, or Deltron 3030, the themes are often there:  alienation, conspiracy, identity, good vs. evil, and rising above one’s origins.  So even though we’ve seen things like RZA’s swaggering samurai hip-hop soundtrack for Ghost Dog, maybe it’s surprising that we’ve never gotten hip-hop directly inspired by an existing film such as Max Tannone’s Selene, inspired by 2009 hard sci-fi film Moon.

Moon is the right basis for the project, as it’s a kind of hip-hop mashup in its own right.  Seriously, if you’ve seen it, hang with me here.  (If you haven’t, you may want to skip forward to avoid spoilers — or just go watch the damn thing now; it’s good.)  Moon is very much a mashup of the style and themes of other hard sci-fi films, notably 2001 and Solaris (the more recent Soderbergh one).  The clean style comes from that 2001 vision of the future, but with a corporate twist, and a little bit of Alien mining ship grime.  Gerdie is a corporate-designed HAL, with a Korean emoji face in place of all-seeing red eye, that has fixed the mission-first homicidal bug — and has that fact used against it.  The intertwined themes of cloned identity and love explored in Solaris are flipped 180 degrees here and become less about what it means to love someone as it does what it means to be someone who is loved.  And tying all this together is the Sam Bell character(s), rising above his intended role, fighting the company that would enslave him for profit.  Hip-hop as hell.

All of those elements from other sci-fi are, in Moon, flipped and recombined to make something new and more than just a collection of references, much like Tannone’s approach to mashup music.  With Selene, Tannone pulls from the single source of Moon — musical elements of the soundtrack, and thematic elements used for the basis of Richard Rich’s original lyrics — and creates something that’s more of a companion for the film than an alternate soundtrack for it.  Any of the songs here could run over the credits as an emotionally appropriate way to play you out of the theater.  The lyrics drift between Sam Bell’s plight and more general exploration similar situations and emotions through the eyes of others.

At some points, I’m not sure the tracks are completely successful on their own, although the first track You Are Here is fully proper.  But as a meditation on the film, it’s an overall compelling piece of work that I’ve found myself listening to more than once.  I think that’s pretty remarkable, and a tribute to the unofficial union of hip-hop and sci-fi.

You Are Here

Download it here.

– Matt


2 Comments so far
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As a fan of the film and of this project, I agree. Word.

Comment by jason

Ooh. I loved Moon, and didn’t know about this recording until now. I especially like the first track.

Comment by John Callender

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