Various Artists

Freestyle, Vol. 1

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The German label ZYX has produced one of the most extensive series of freestyle compilations. Like most of their competitors, ZYX tends to come up with a couple decent tracks for each volume and fills out the remaining space with fluff -- plenty of low-performing singles released long after freestyle's mid-'80s peak that rely on tired tricks, and other cuts that have more to do with contemporary R&B, adult contemporary, and hip-hop. Needless to say, your love of freestyle has to be unconditional in order to thoroughly enjoy each disc in this series. (Those looking for relatively concise compilations that have more emphasis on the hits are directed to Freestyle Greatest Beats, The Best of Freestyle, and Masters of Freestyle.) This first volume is one of the best in the series, including Johnny O.'s "Fantasy Girl," Shannon's "Let the Music Play," Lil Suzy's "Love Can't Wait," Freestyle's "It's Automatic," Timmy T.'s "Cry a Million Tears," Planet Soul's "Set You Free," and 69 Boyz's "Tootsee Roll."