Various Artists

Hip Hop Essentials, Vol. 6

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A track listing on any volume in Tommy Boy's Hip Hop Essentials series could not possibly be met with across-the-board approval by a group of hip-hop scholars. That's part of the charm -- these discs, for better or worse, are representative, not definitive. A hip-hop fan, whether knowledgeable or relatively new to the form, will likely think that at least a couple tracks on each disc are garbage. This is more true with the sixth volume of the series than any other, as there are some really polarizing tracks in the latter half of its duration. Tone-Loc's "Wild Thing," a major mainstream hit, is often seen as hip-hop carpetbaggery at its worst, with its Run-D.M.C.-lite backing made all the more revolting by sleaze ball MCing. (Sinisterly enough, it follows Run-D.M.C.'s "King of Rock" here.) 2 Live Crew's "We Want Some P" was effective in its goal to shock and offend, but since it's a victim of Tommy Boy's selective censoring, it's stripped of its point and seems like a pointless inclusion. (And following years of countless strides in crude extremism, the track sounds less like a bold innovation and more like a withered curiosity.) That said, there are several tracks that no hip-hop head should live without, including Slick Rick's "Children's Story," Boogie Down Productions' "My Philosophy," Gang Starr's "Just to Get a Rep," and the aforementioned "King of Rock."

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