Various Artists

Genius of Rap

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When Island released this rap compilation in England in early 1982, people were still debating whether hip-hop was here to stay or was merely a passing fad. But hip-hop wasn't showing any signs of slowing down -- it was only getting bigger and bigger, and those who insisted that it was here to stay were absolutely right. In those days, hip-hop was dominated by 12 singles; it wasn't until the rise of second-generation rappers like Run-D.M.C., Whodini, and the Fat Boys that hip-hop became known for its albums. So in early 1982, Genius of Rap was a hip-hop LP in a sea of hip-hop singles. This compilation is far from the last word on old-school rap, but it does boast some of the most essential hip-hop classics of the late '70s and early '80s, including Afrika Bambaataa's "Jazzy Sensation" (which preceded 1982's influential "Planet Rock"), T-Ski's Valley's "Catch the Beat!," and Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde's "Genius Rap" (which finds the duo rapping over the Tom Tom Club's 1981 hit "Genius of Love"). The oldest track is Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "Superappin'," which was among hip-hop's earliest singles and preceded the group's association with Sugarhill Records. The compilation also offers a track by a mainstream R&B act: Twennynine & Lenny White's "Twennynine (The Rap)," which isn't hardcore hip-hop but does illustrate rap's influence on funk in the early 1980s. An excellent compilation, Genius of Rap was required listening for hip-hop fans in 1982.