There is constant reference in hip-hop to the "Golden Years," when it's argued that the genre was about innovation and talent, and not just about club hits or bling. This was clearly the feeling at Madacy when Hip Hop Classics was compiled. The focus of the album, a two-disc, 20-song set, is on the more fun, party atmosphere (as opposed to the more introspective, socially critical side), with songs like Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P." and Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage" setting the tone early on. And while there are big hip-hop hits like the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," and Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It," the collection isn't as consistent as it could be. Yes, De La Soul, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Queen Latifah are all included, but their songs are not their most famous, and while L'Trimm's "Cars with the Boom" may have had limited success when it was released in 1988, it's hardly -- nor should it be -- a classic. The compilation's a bit of a misnomer, and certainly lacking important "classic" artists and their songs (Snoop, Dre, Tribe, Arrested Development, Biggie, LL Cool J, Biz Markie -- and, if you're going to put Snow in there, there's no reason to ignore DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, who had a lot more to offer -- just to name a few), but it may be entertaining to those who just want some generally recognizable (mostly) '90s rap.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2