Various Artists

Ruffhouse Records Greatest Hits

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Although it never gained the notoriety of Def Jam, Death Row, or No Limit, Ruffhouse had its share of excellent artists during the '90s, most notably Cypress Hill, the Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Kris Kross. As a celebration of nearly ten years in the business -- or at least as a way of celebrating the massive success of Hill's debut solo album -- the label released Ruffhouse Records Greatest Hits, a generous compilation that contains 14 of their biggest hits, along with an interesting but superfluous Jason Nevins remix of "Insane in the Brain." Perhaps that mix was added as incentive to collectors, but the reason to pick up the compilation are the hits themselves; the best of these -- "How I Could Just Kill a Man," "Fu-Gee-La," "Killing Me Softly With His Song," "Insane in the Brain," "Doo Wop (That Thing)," "Gone Till November" and "Jump" -- sound like contemporary classics, while such lesser numbers as Tim Dog's silly, silly "Fuck Compton" are great nostalgia trips. It's not perfect, of course -- although the Fugees and their side projects are rightly emphasized, it's at the expense of some good music by other artists -- but it still is a first-class portrait of the label.

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