Available six months prior to the two-CD version as a quadruple vinyl set -- evidently the label still takes "Servicing DJs since 1984" seriously -- Def Jam 25: Bring That Beat Back is designed like a sampler, not a definitive overview of hip-hop's greatest label. At least five more volumes of this size, if well-chosen, would be as strong as this. Just over half the tracks overlap with the five-disc 25th Anniversary box, released the same year, so it is not quite complementary to the mother ship release of the label's 2009 celebration, but it should be useful to relatively casual followers of rap and R&B who need to plug some gaps in their collections. Running in (mostly) reverse chronological order, it does not play favorites with any one faction or era of the label's existence; the contrasting presence of Oran "Juice" Jones and Rihanna, Public Enemy and Rick Ross, and Ashanti and Boss says plenty about the range of the back catalog. With its otherwise generalist approach, the compilation's inclusion of three LL Cool J songs ("I Need a Beat," "I Need Love," and "I Can't Live Without My Radio"), at the expense of unrepresented Def Jam artists like EPMD, Warren G, Scarface, and Ghostface Killah, is its biggest flaw.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2