Various Artists

Roots of Rap [Bonus Track]

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In the late 1970s and early '80s, hip-hop was born in the parks and streets of the Bronx and soon spread to the rest of the country. Roots of Rap is a mediocre attempt to highlight some of those early artists (mediocre not only because of the sound quality, but also because of the strange versions of the songs, which are possibly live or possibly just have "live audience sounds" mixed in). The artists on the compilation are all generally valid choices (an exception perhaps being Tone-Loc, and a notable exclusion being Grandmaster Flash), although the track choices -- Run-D.M.C.'s "Pause," LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" -- are sometimes a little odd. And three of the artists, Kurtis Blow, Ice-T, and Kool Moe Dee/the Treacherous Three (though the group is uncredited), have medleys of some of their most famous pieces instead of just one song. Besides that, not much is out of the ordinary on Roots of Rap, but it would be nice to hear the original versions instead of whatever versions the album's compilers found. [This 2006 CD features a Gil Scott-Heron bonus track.]

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