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Django Unchained
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  • If Quentin Tarantino's complete immersion in the schlock of the '60s and '70s no longer seems as surprising as it did in the '90s, there is no denying that his accomplishment at repurposing has only grown over the years. Take the soundtrack for Django Unchained, his "Southern" about a slave out to rescue his wife from an evil plantation owner. Tarantino relies on selections from spaghetti Westerns, including the theme from 1966's exploitation classic Django (quite explicitly the inspiration for QT's titular character), '70s funk and pop, '60s exotica, heaps of quoted film scores, and a hefty dose of new songs that deftly tweak these very sounds. Most previous Tarantino soundtracks relied heavily on the past but here there is a strong dose of the present arriving in the form of hip-hop and R&B, a tacit acknowledgment that he's dealing with tricky racial issues in this film and it's best to cushion the blow with some modern music. Of course, it helps that most of these new additions either directly reference the film's plot -- Rick Ross' "100 Black Coffins" -- or blend the past and the present in a fashion not dissimilar to Tarantino's filmmaking (John Legend's "Who Did That to You?," Anthony Hamilton's "Freedom"). But the true pleasure of Django Unchained is hearing how it swings from this retro-soul to Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone scores to Jim Croce's "I Got a Name," stopping along the way for choice excerpts from the film's dialogue. It spans decades and styles but it's held together by Tarantino's vision, not unlike the film itself. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Quentin Tarantino's soundtracks, like his films, are works of expert connoisseurship: pop-culture history lessons, assembled with a crate-digger's impeccable taste."
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