Recording information: DPA Studios, Oak Park, MI; Effigy Studios; HeadQcourterz Studios Ltd, New York, NY; Mudd Monkey Studio in Garfield, NJ; Warhouse Studios, PA and Fort Charles Studio NYC.
A soundtrack curated by Shady Records, Southpaw features two tracks from label boss Eminem, the aptly titled solo cut "Phenomenal," plus "Kings Never Die" with Gwen Stefani, which comes off as a worthy rap-rock sequel to "Lose Yourself." The rapper's side project with Royce Da 5'9", Bad Meets Evil, gets two cuts as well, while numbers from 50 Cent and Slaughterhouse represent the rest of Shady's hard hitters. Cuts from outside artists like Action Bronson and the Weeknd prove the label's crew know what's hip, but the choice of workout-leader-turned-rapper Rob Bailey is especially brilliant seeing as how athletics are central to the film. Grab the Biggie chestnut "Notorious Thugs" and that's a party, but the bittersweet bit is the album's dedication to film composer James Horner, who was killed in a plane crash two months before Southpaw's release. ~ David Jeffries