Various Artists

Diggin' in the Crates, Vol. 1: Profile Rap Classics

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When hip-hop became huge in the early '80s, its popularity put quite a few independent labels on the map. One of the most important was Profile, which was founded in 1981 and went on to become one of the top indie labels in the U.S. Profile never recorded rap exclusively (the company also provided its share of dance classics), but it was hip-hop more than anything that brought attention to the label. In 1994, Profile looked back on its rap output of the early to mid-'80s with this gem-laden collection. The CD's oldest track is Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde's "Genius Rap" -- a 1981 classic that finds the hip-hop pioneers rapping to the Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" -- and its most recent is Dana Dane's quirky "Nightmares" from 1986. Gems like Run-D.M.C.'s "Sucker MCs," Pebblee-Poo's "A Fly Guy" (a female's response to the Boogie Boys' "A Fly Girl"), and Pumpkin's "Here Comes That Beat!" transport the listener back to a classic era in hip-hop -- a time when New York still dominated the genre, breakdancers were doing their thing on the sidewalks of major American cities, gangsta rap had yet to become popular, and MCs used the term "fresh" to praise things that excited them. Diggin' in the Crates reminds us that Profile's contributions to rap were sizable.

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