Kurtis Blow

Back by Popular Demand

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In the early '80s Blow successfully brought rap to the middle of R&B radio with 1980's "The Breaks." Other hits include "Party Time," "If I Ruled the World," and the prime go-go of "I'm Chillin'"; Blow also produced the Fat Boys and effervescent tracks like "Can You Feel It" and "Fat Boys Are Back," and the suave "Pump It Up." But by 1988 Blow's hit-making streak turned stone cold. In many respects, Back By Popular Demand provides a blueprint for what not to do on a late-'80s rap album. The first track and initial single has Blow putting himself on the ropes and the defensive as he proclaims his return, but he never really went anywhere. The song, like the majority of this effort, employs a harder, James Brown sample-laden sound. The best interpolation and rhyme, "I'm True to This," attains the edge Blow desired with good use of a loop from Lyn Collins' kinetic "Think." The too brief "Get on Up" and "Suckers in the Place" almost work as well. Despite the few bright spots, this is one of those albums that just seemed to be doomed from the start. Blow tacks a doggerel rap on "Stay on the Scene" which manages to squander loops from "Funky President" and "Strawberry Letter 23." "I Feel Good," "Express Yourself," and "Only the Strong Survive" are ghastly and would have stalled even the most charmed of careers. Despite the promise, Back By Popular Demand was left in the dust by more challenging and better-executed albums.

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