Various Artists

Breaks Sessions

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Possibly infuriating the blurry-eyed crate-diggers and wannabe DJs who have spent hours finding some of these proverbial needles in the haystack at garage sales and record fairs, Breaks Sessions spreads 30 rare, no-longer-rare, and never-were-rare cuts from the R&B vaults that time (or label catalog departments) forgot across two discs. Enticing the consumer on its cover with a laundry list of rap artists who appropriated elements of each selection contained within, the compilation delivers the goods by curating an extensive set of songs that will leave many a rap fan exclaiming, "Oh, so that's where..." over and over and over. For the most part, this compilation stands up on its own without the theme, with plenty of should-be and already-are classics scattered throughout. And, in some cases, there's a good reason why some of them remained obscurities until they had their drum breaks, basslines, keyboard tones, vocal warblings, and guitar flicks filched by DJs and production teams: they weren't all that great to begin with. Semi-infamous favorites like Bob James' "Nautilus" and Skull Snaps' "Trespassin'" mix it up with universally known songs like the Meters' "Same Old Thing," Isaac Hayes' "Joy," and the Dramatics' "Get up and Get Down," so it's hardly a "rarities only" deal. One amusing thing to consider is how ripe some of these songs have been for the picking: for example, if you subtracted each element from the Last Poets' "Tribute to Obabi" that has been appropriated throughout the years, only a lonely, distant shaker would remain. All things considered, Breaks Sessions is a valuable package, throwing together an impressive, multi-hued set of R&B-derived nuggets from the '60s and '70s. Not only does it demystify key elements of numerous rap cuts, but each selection is accompanied in the liner notes by informed commentary spiked with anecdotes.

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