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Beatty raps for 'Bulworth'

Web posted on: Tuesday, May 12, 1998 3:00:03 PM EDT

"Rap music is the music of social protest of a generation and a culture that will be heard," Beatty said, explaining why he selected that sound for the soundtrack of "Bulworth"

By Steve Hochman

LOS ANGELES -- Beatty has played gangsters in the movies. But would have guessed he's into rap music? Yet that's the sound he wanted for the soundtrack of his upcoming political satire, "Bulworth," which he wrote, directed and stars in.

So, with executive producer Karyn Rachtman (who put together the music for such hit movies as "Pulp Fiction" and "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet"), he spent the past two years building relationships with some of the top names in hip-hop to make it happen.

The result is a score that includes one collaboration by Dr. Dre and LL Cool J, another teaming Pras of the Fugees with the Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard (he of the recent Grammy outburst), plus a title song super-session featuring Method Man, KRS-One, Mobb Deep's Prodigy and Kam.

Also featured are new or previously unreleased tracks by Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang members RZA and Cappadonna and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees teamed with Nigerian star Youssou N'Dour and young rapper Canibus. A video for that track is slated to be shot with Beatty and "Bulworth" co-star Halle Berry joining the rappers.

Pras, long a fan of Beatty's -- especially in his role as crime boss Bugsy Siegel in 1991's "Bugsy" -- was surprised to see the actor backstage after a Fugees show two years ago at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

"Warren Beatty -- that's like white mainstream America," says the rapper. "You don't get more mainstream than that."

Movie topics appealed to rappers

Beatty, who was turning up regularly at other rap shows around that time, didn't even mention the movie. But late last year, he and Rachtman started inviting rappers to see rough cuts of the film, in which he plays a disillusioned senator who decides to go out and tell the truth. In particular, he focuses on racial and class relations -- topics addressed in much rap music.

"Rap music is the music of social protest of a generation and a culture that will be heard," Beatty said in the press material accompanying the Interscope album.

"Beatty is a definite appreciator of rap music and all these artists," said Rachtman, Interscope's vice president of soundtracks and "Bulworth"'s music supervisor. "He gets it, gets what hip-hop culture is all about."

And it was no problem getting the rappers to appreciate what the film is about.

"I responded to the whole concept," Pras said. "I'm into the whole thing about corruption of the government."

The trick was to capture that fire in the songs without alienating mainstream Beatty fans.

"My song is totally hip-hop, but with a melody that has to go to the masses," Pras says. "But the music speaks for itself, even without the movie. It would work whether it was for Warren Beatty or Bill Clinton or the Antichrist."

(c) 1998, Steve Hochman. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

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