Yesterday marked 15 years since an important date in music history. If you were a fan of pop music in 1999, the world stopped for the record breaking release of Backstreet Boys' Millennium. But on the same music retailers were flooded with teeny-boppers geared up to listen to the soon-to-be-smash single "I Want It That Way," underground hip-hop heads were busy looking to scoop the landmark Rawkus compilation Soundbombing II, regarded as one of the most important releases to come before the 00's. Now that it's been 15 years since both were released, it's time to compare and contrast the two to decide which is right for you.
The first taste fans got from either release were these landmark singles. "I Want It That Way," while often ridiculed by critics for having lyrics that make little-to-no sense, offered an excellent array of harmonies and the type of melody pop dreams were made of. On the other hand "1-9-9-9" offered a viable alternative to the overtly excessive rap videos in rotation on BET with the stripped down minimalist focus on rappers rapping.
By autumn 1999 when it was time for Millennium's second single, the Boys spared no expense with the CGI-heavy "Larger Than Life" video. One look and you can tell not only was 1999 a year of bright colors, but the music industry had an absurd amount of money. On the other hand, you had El-P's original group Company Flow with a paranoid banger in "Patriotism," a song which El jokes tells you a lot about him for the fact that he wrote it in the Clinton era.
While not the signature songs of either record, these particular tracks wound up still echoing around the pop culture hydrosphere for years to come. "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" was a video that premiered on New Year's Eve 1999 and would go on to be one of the Boys' signature ballads. High & Mighty's "B-Boy Document '99," while you may not recognize its name, contained one of DJ Mighty-Mi's best known beats that wound up everywhere from video games to street ball tapes.
Despite beginning with thankful tidings, the Boys' "Behind the Music" special didn't offer the fondest memories of "The One." To many in the group, its filming was when things began to go off the rails. "Stanley Kubrick" was the Soundbombing contribution from veteran R.A. the Rugged Man, and while considered an underground classic, has the dark distinction of being the one track whose artist doesn't appear on the cover art.
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The little-known inclusions on both albums have something of a secret life amongst cult fans. "I'll Be There For You" was Millennium's bonus cut for international releases. Thirstin Howl III's "Brooklyn Hard Rock," one of the most known underground singles of its era, had already been out for two years by the time of Soundbombing II's release. Yet, its mixed by Orange County underground legends The Beat Junkies (the distinction of west coast DJs mixing a largely east coast compilation so soon after the hyped east-west hip-hop feud made a further statement of Rawkus as an alternative product) we at least got a well blended snippet of a surefire underground essential.