Various Artists

Ultimate Breaks & Beats, Vol. 18

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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 18th volume features Dennis Coffey's "Ride Sally Ride," Jimmy Castor's "It's Just Begun," the Bar-Kays' "Let's Have Some Fun," and Marva Whitney's "It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who to Sock It To)."