Entertainment Weekly - 1/13/95, p.60
"...This album--which accompanies a hip-hop-generation-meets-white supremacists film--is appropriately filled with clashing aesthetics, so that the juxtaposition of workaday cuts by Ice Cube and Liz Phair makes sense..." - Rating: B+
Musician - 4/95, p.73
"...the high quality of these selections...make the rough edges worth enduring."
NME (Magazine) - 2/11/95, p.41
7 - Very Good - "...multi-cultural, genre-busting....The mixture of rap, soul, jazz-funk, singer-songwriters and rockers, whilst uneven in places, makes for an illuminating hour's listen..."
Liz Phair's "Don't Have Time" was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
Following the lead of fellow film auteur Quentin Tarantino, writer/director John Singleton has discarded the standard soundtrack formula in exchange for something that encompasses his film's narrative and point of view. HIGHER LEARNING the movie examines the philosophical differences between races, sexes and class factions on America's college campuses. HIGHER LEARNING the soundtrack reflects not only the diverse musical tastes of these groups, but their various politics as well.
The agendas and representations are on nearly every track. Ice Cube opens with a simmering shuffle that sets the narrative scene and fumes about race relations ("Higher"). Rage Against The Machine exhibit a thrashing agit-rap that serves their leftist views ("Year Of The Boomerang"). Liz Phair feeds the war of the sexes by deconstructing some old boyfriend's psyche ("Don't Have Time"). Tori Amos' radical reinterpretation of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" as a slow philosophical dirge emphasizes the instability of young people's worlds. OutKast produce a set of wickedly fierce rhymes about cultural mis-apprehensions ("Phobias"). The radical diversity of the album's closing cuts--the heavy, alternative rock of Eve's Plum, and Stanley Clarke's jazz-funk--is simply the final example of how the HIGHER LEARNING soundtrack firmly embodies the cultural melting pot that it strives to describe.