Various Artists

15 Years of Duck Down

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Had it been labeled "The Best of Duck Down," this compilation would likely provoke protests from hip-hop historians craving greater representation for such seminal LPs as Black Moon's Enta da Stage and Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin' and questioning the inclusion of more gimmicky cuts like "Super Brooklyn" and "I'm Better Than You." Nonetheless, 15 Years is more of a retrospective than a greatest-hits comp, and as such, there's not much room for dwelling on individual moments of glory. Instead, the chronologically ordered track list keeps things moving from year to year, and many of the label's best LPs (Heltah Skeltah's Nocturnal, O.G.C.'s Da Storm, Cocoa Brovaz's The Rude Awakening, Boot Camp Clik's A Chosen Few) are represented by a single track each. The fact that Sean Price has two whole solo joints included here (aside from appearances as a part of Heltah Skeltah and the larger Boot Camp collective) should speak to his status as the label's biggest and most active star. The fact that this comp is centered on the Boot Camp Clik and its members should come as no surprise. Still, the sole track with absolutely zero Boot Camp affiliation, Kidz in the Hall's "Drivin' Down the Block," feels out of place. The 18-deep track list could have better reflected the label's recent diversification, with releases by non-Boot Camp (and non-New York) artists like Special Teamz, DJ Revolution, Marco Polo, and B-Real, among others. Nonetheless, a start-to-finish listen to 15 Years of Duck Down provides an enjoyable sampling of the enduring label's output as well as an inkling as to how East Coast rap evolved over a decade-and-a-half.

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