Various Artists

Street Jams: Electric Funk, Vols. 1-4

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Available either as a box set or as individual discs, Street Jams: Electric Funk, Vols. 1-4 is an excellent, comprehensive overview of the groundbreaking electro-funk of the early '80s. Over the course of four discs, most of the genre's major players, including Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, are represented by their biggest hits and best-known remixes; many of its one-hit wonders are here as well, adding depth and context. Much of this music is presented in 12" mixes, which gives a more accurate portrait of electro-funk and how it stretched and played with rhythms and electronics. For casual listeners, the sheer length of some of these songs may be intimidating -- some push the ten-minute mark -- but any serious collector or listener of hip-hop, urban R&B, electronica, or modern music should be familiar with many of these songs and mixes.

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