Various Artists

Death Row Greatest Hits

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More than any other label, Death Row defined gangsta rap and hip-hop in the early '90s, and the double-disc Death Row Greatest Hits captures nearly all of the label's biggest hits from artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and 2Pac. Although the disc bends some rules by including cuts that weren't released on Death Row and containing an abundance of previously unreleased songs, the compilation sums up the feeling of the early and mid-'90s. A single disc would have provided more consistent thrills -- and it would have eliminated the annoying remixes on disc two -- but the sprawl is also indicative of the self-indulgence of gangsta rap, which is essential to understanding the genre. And Death Row Greatest Hits has a string of great songs -- "Let Me Ride," "What's My Name," "Gin and Juice," "Nothin' but a G Thang" (but no "California Love") -- making it an excellent summation of gangsta rap's glory days.

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