Released to coincide with the first showing of MTV's program This Is Music: Hip-Hop Back in the Day, MTV Presents: Hip-Hop Back in the Day is an excellent collection of early rap hits. While a handful of the songs stretch past old-school and into the late '80s (Boogie Down Productions' "South Bronx," LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells," Tone-Loc's "Funky Cold Medina," MC Shan's "The Bridge"), the majority of the collection is devoted to early- and mid-'80s hits like Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks," Grandmaster Flash's "The Message," Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," the Fat Boys' "Fat Boys," U.T.F.O.'s "Roxanne, Roxanne," Doug E. Fresh's "The Show," Whodini's "Freaks Come Out at Night," and Heavy D's "The Overweight Lovers in the House." Almost every one of these tracks was a hip-hop milestone, and this isn't a bad way to pick them up on one disc, even if the presence of the bonus 1998 remix of "The Message" leaves a bitter aftertaste.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine