Beats and Rhymes offers glimpse of hip-hop history

Luis Guerra




Rap music began surfacing on records in 1979, and artists such as Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Kurtis Blow and the Sugar Hill Gang were some of the first to introduce the world to hip-hop music. They laid the groundwork, and the floodgates were open for all others to show their stuff. Hip-hop music began to grow, and the history of rap was set.

Having already released The Sugar Hill Records Story and Kurtis Blow Presents: The History of Rap, Rhino Records has recently given us a three-part series, Beats and Rhymes: Hip Hop of the '90s, volumes, one, two and three. These three discs take you from 1990 to 1992, just before the rise of NWA and the gangsta rap era.

The first disc (****) contains fifteen pure classics. It begins with Main Sources' "Looking at the Front Door" and continues with "Thinking of a Master Plan" by YZ, "Just Call Me D-Nice" by D-Nice and "It's Funky Enough" from the DOC. These are just a few of the songs from '90 that changed hip-hop from a fad to a way of life.

The second disc (***1/2) is not as strong as the first, basically because a couple of tracks just don't fit in. This is especially true of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Summertime."

Don't get me wrong, though. 1991 was a good year. UMC's "Blue Cheese," DJ Quik's "Tonite," Organized Kon-fusion's "Fudge Pudge" and Brand Nubian's "Slow Down" make this a solid representation of hip-hop music in '91.

The third disc (****1/2) turns out to be the best of the three. "Hot Sex" and "Scenario," from one of the most consistent groups in hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest, are just two of the four tracks the group has on this album. Grand Puba lends "360 (What Goes Around)," and Black Moon comes on strong with the classic "Who Got Da Props."

Others worth mentioning include "Not Gonna be Able to Do It" from Double X Posse, "Guard Your Grill" from Naughty by Nature and The Pharcyde's "Ya Mama."

These three discs take you back to the time when hip-hop grew into an art form.

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