Kurtis Blow

Ego Trip

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By the time Kurtis Blow recorded 1984's Ego Trip, the Harlem MC was no longer considered cutting-edge in hip-hop circles. Blow, who was at the height of his popularity around 1979-1981, had come to be regarded as old school --and in 1984, cutting-edge meant Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, the Fat Boys, the Beastie Boys, and Whodini. But even if Blow's rapping style was sounding somewhat dated in 1984, he still had impressive technique. Although uneven, Ego Trip has a lot going for it. Some of the material is excellent, especially the hit "Basketball" (which salutes the sport's big names), the skeletal "AJ Scratch," and the sociopolitical offerings "I Can't Take It No More" and "8 Million Stories" (which features Run-D.M.C. and puts an 1980s spin on the old TV series The Naked City). Other tracks, meanwhile, are decent but not great -- like Blow's previous LPs, Ego Trip isn't without filler. Hip-hop was becoming increasingly album-minded in 1984, but Blow had come out of an era in which singles dominated hip-hop and albums were the exception instead of the rule -- which may explain why his albums tended to be inconsistent. But Ego Trip has more plusses than minuses, and its best tracks are first-rate.

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