Various Artists

Hip Hop Essentials, Vol. 2

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Signaled by the instant-impression-leaving sample from Jesse Jackson's appearance at Wattstax, Public Enemy's "Rebel Without a Pause" opens the second volume of Tommy Boy's Hip Hop Essentials. One of the most startling tracks out of any genre -- whether you're hearing it for the 100th time and can't get enough or are hearing it for the first time and have heard enough -- it's an ideal way to introduce one of the best-selected volumes in the series. The disc contains several tracks that have deserved as much attention (or almost as much attention) as "Rapper's Delight." In addition to the PE cut, there's Ed O.G. & da Bulldogs' "Be a Father to Your Child," the epitome of conscious rap ("She had to bear it by herself and take care of it by herself/And givin' her some money for milk won't really help"); Main Source's "Looking at the Front Door," a sobering relationship sketch backed by a production that neither Kanye West nor Just Blaze have ever matched; MC Lyte's "Paper Thin," a fierce takedown move on par with the best Rakim; and Tim Dog's "F**k Compton" (one of the tracks to fall prey to the series' selective expletive removals), a roaring assault on the then-massive gangsta rap capital. On the lighter side, there's Kid 'N Play's "Last Night," De la Soul's "Plug Tunin'," Biz Markie's "Nobody Beats the Biz," and Young MC's "Bust a Move."

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