Various Artists

Def Jam Classics, Vol.1

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The first in a two-volume set released in 1989 and 1990, Def Jam Classics, Vol. 1 is an excellent if not definitive look at the history of one of rap music's most crucial labels. Most of the tracks are classics and will be familiar to those who grew up during this era -- there's LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells," Slick Rick's "The Ruler's Back," Public Enemy's "Rebel Without a Pause," Original Concept's "Can U Feel It," and the Beastie Boys' "Rhymin & Stealin." The rarities and otherwise less-popular tracks -- like the Public Enemy B-side "Son of Public Enemy [Flavor Whop Version]" only entice the collectors. Younger fans whose first memories of rap music date back to the mid-'90s and later should snap this up -- and the succeeding volume as well -- with no hesitation.

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