Various Artists

Ministry of Sound Anthems: Hip Hop

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After recently tackling the old-skool classics of disco, electronica, and R&B, the influential Ministry of Sound label now switch their attention to the hip-hop anthems of yesteryear with this 2011 three-CD collection. Encompassing everything from the iconic rap-rock of Run-D.M.C. ("Walk This Way") to the West Coast G-funk of 2Pac ("California Love") to contemporary offerings from T.I. ("Dead and Gone") and DMX ("Lord Give Me a Sign"), Anthems Hip Hop incorporates 54 of the genre's most influential tracks from the last three decades. While there are a couple of glaringly obvious omissions (the absence of pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang is almost unforgivable) and surprising snubs to Kanye West, the Beastie Boys, and the Notorious B.I.G., this latest installment in the Anthems series does at least attempt to paint a rounded picture of the history of hip-hop, concentrating just as much on underground acts like King Bee ("Back by Dope Demand") and Chubb Rock ("Treat ‘Em Right") as it does on commercial juggernauts like Jay-Z ("Dead Presidents II") and Dr. Dre ("Nuthin' But a G Thing"). Alongside seminal early cuts from A Tribe Called Quest ("Can I Kick It?"), Base ("It Takes Two"), and House of Pain ("Jump Around"), there are massive chart hits from Missy Elliott ("Get Ur Freak On"), OutKast ("Ms. Jackson"), and M.O.P. ("Ante Up") and two tracks apiece from hip-hop legends Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, and Nas, while the British contribution to the scene is wisely acknowledged with tunes from Roots Manuva ("Witness [I Hope]"), and Blak Twang ("So Rotten"). But while the first two '80s/'90s-based discs appear to have been carefully compiled, the selections on the noughties-heavy third seem a little more haphazard, with only four tracks included post-2002, two of which (J-Kwon's "Tipsy" and Flo Rida's "Low") are more crunk-led R&B than authentic hip-hop. Like most attempts at genre-defining compilations, Anthems Hip Hop will spark heated debates over what should and shouldn't have been included. But although it's by no means the definitive retrospective, it's a fairly representative musical history lesson that should inspire listeners to dig out their box-fresh Adidas and bust out their best breakdancing moves.

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