Various Artists

Kurtis Blow Presents the History of Rap, Vol. 1: The Genesis

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The first volume of the three-part Kurtis Blow Presents the History of Rap is subtitled The Genesis, which means that it covers a period of time when rap was strictly a live art form and rarely made it to record. That means, of course, that the disc is filled with funk records -- specifically ones with extended rhythm breaks and grooves that provided ideal instrumental backdrops for rappers. The Genesis leans toward the obscure, where even the most familiar names (James Brown, the Isley Brothers, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, the Jackson 5) are represented with unfamiliar songs, and the remainder of the compilation is filled with cult artists (Baby Huey, Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, Black Heat, Rhythm Heritage). While many of these songs may be unfamiliar, there are beats and samples that have been popularized through sampling, which makes listening to the disc fascinating. Unfortunately, it never becomes truly intoxicating, since it's a historical recording that's designed for education, not entertainment, but anyone interested in the birth of hip-hop will find it necessary listening.

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