Various Artists

Metropolitan Freestyle Extravaganza, Vol. 1

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The Metropolitan Freestyle Extravaganza series is rooted in releases from the New Jersey-based Metropolitan label, which has carried the torch for freestyle long beyond the style's mid-'80s prime. Only die-hard freestyle fans will have any interest in the series -- around the late '80s, most of the producers lost vitality and either relied on tired tricks or took too much from contemporary R&B and rap to make their material distinguishable. The first volume of the series, like the second and third, is annoyingly broken down into two tracks of mixed material. That means that the songs aren't provided in full, and you'll have to scan through the mixes in order to reach whatever song you want to hear. (So it's really a 60-minute cassette on CD.) Few of the songs are notable at all, especially when compared to the best from original freestyle veterans like Debbie Deb, the Cover Girls, Trinere, Exposé, and Shannon.

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