Vacancy is an EP by Joseph Arthur released on May 11, 1999. Released by the independent label Undercover out of Portland, Oregon, Vacancy is a hand packaged, limited edition that was assembled one at a time by two people at Undercover. Each one was pressed and die-cut, then assembled and folded by hand. Vacancy was limited to 10,000 copies worldwide—5,000 to the US and 5,000 to Europe, the UK and France. The EP's sleeve design was nominated in 1999 for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package. Joan Osborne plays acoustic guitar on "Crying on Sunday."
Set three years before the first film, the action takes place in and around the Meadow View Inn, a small roadside motel in rural North Carolina. It opens with newlyweds driving and the bride wants to have sex in the car, which makes the groom stop. They are then stopped by a man, whose property they are on. The manager, Gordon (David Moscow), oversees an operation of using cameras within the motel to videotape the newlyweds having oral sex. Later, a serial killer (Scott G. Anderson), who checks into the motel as Smith brutally murders a woman he brought with him in one of the motel rooms. The horrified staff see the whole crime on videotape and then subdue the man. They, however, do not know what to do with him as they will endanger their operation if they call the police. Smith manages to convince Gordon and his staff to hire him to torture and murder the motel guests on videotape and then sell them as snuff films.
The story uses third-person narration and tells the story of Victor, a self-conscious man for whom "music he did not know... could be likened to the patter of a conversation in a strange tongue." When Victor arrives at a party, he finds the other guests listening with varying degrees of engagement to a man named Wolfe play the piano. As Victor does not know the song being played, he loses interest. He catches a glimpse of his ex-wife at the party, but cannot look at her. He laments the fact that now he must "start all over" the long task of forgetting her (in a flashback, it's revealed that she left him for another, who may or may not be at the party). Throughout the entire story, Victor views the music as a structure that has him encaged in an awkward situation with his ex-wife; it had seemed to him "a narrow dungeon" until it ends, thus giving his ex-wife the opportunity to leave, which she does. Victor then realizes that the music was not a dungeon, but actually "incredible bliss, a magic glass dome that had embraced and imprisoned him and her," and which allowed him to "breathe the same air as she." After she leaves, another party-goer comments to Victor that he looked immune to the music and that he didn't think such a thing possible. His own inanity is revealed when Victor asks him what was played and he cannot tell whether it was Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata or Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska's rather easy piece, Maiden's Prayer.
The song was thought of by Sermon after buying a copy of Gaye's Midnight Love and the Sexual Healing Sessions album, which overlook some of the original album's earlier mixes. After listening to an outtake of Gaye's 1982 album track, "Turn On Some Music" (titled "I've Got My Music" in its initial version), Sermon decided to mix the vocals (done in a cappella) and add it into his own song. The result was similar to Natalie Cole's interpolation of her father, jazz great Nat "King" Cole's hit, "Unforgettable" revisioned as a duet. The hip hop and soul duet featuring the two veteran performers was released as the leading song of the soundtrack to the Martin Lawrence & Danny DeVito comedy, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" The song became a runaway success rising to #2 on Billboard's R&B chart and was #1 on the rap charts. It also registered at #21 pop giving Sermon his highest-charted single on the pop charts as a solo artist and giving Gaye his first posthumous hit in 10 years following 1991's R&B-charted single, "My Last Chance" also bringing Gaye his 41st top 40 pop hit. There is also a version that's played on Adult R&B stations that removes Erick Sermon's rap verses. The song was featured in the 2011 Matthew McConaughey film The Lincoln Lawyer.