The Ultimate Breaks and Beats series, conceived by the late Bronx-based record collector and low-key DJ Lenny Roberts, played an essential role in the evolution of rap music. Its 25 volumes were released between 1986 and 1990 and empowered many a DJ and producer (a very partial roll call: Jam Master Jay, Kurtis Mantronik, DJ Premier) by providing easy access to sought-after tracks that often required much time and money to hunt down. Someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of rap music could probably rattle off a series of cuts that took an element from each selection in the series, whether it's a drum break, a flute loop, a guitar scratch, a Hammond line, or a vocal snip, and if you've merely been a fan of hip-hop, odds are good that you'll be familiar with a lot of what you hear. The artwork on each installment of the series doesn't indicate the volume, but you can go by the catalog number -- SBR 501 is the first volume, SBR 502 is the second, and so on. The 16th volume features the Commodores' "The Assembly Line," Johnny Jenkins' "I Walk on Guilded Splinters," Marvin Gaye's "'T' Plays It Cool," and the Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money and Run."
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