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This was IT: the Golden Age of The Source's "Hip Hop Hits" CDs. This album shows what The Source was before Benzino took over, and drove it straight into the ground. Terrific artists like Eminem and Common, who are passed over on recent albums because of Benzino's feuds, are presented here in top form. Hip-Hop had grown exponentialy by the year 2000; into a dominant force of the music industry. This was and the breakout year; and the biggest AND best hip-hop songs from 2000 are all summed up on this masterpiece.
(1) Nelly "Country Grammar (Hot...)" A. Not only was this Nelly's wonderous debut single, but it was also opened the door for evry "Mid-west rapper". The sound, flow and lyrics are like nothing we've ever heard before and that's what most rap is lacking. Even the chorus, with it's R&B sample, sounds new and refreshing. This is a catchy, light and highly entertaining debut.
(2) Common "The Light" A. Common is hands diwn a true MC. Just like Bone Thugz-N-Harmony and 2Pac, he is able to create rap with message and purpose, yet keep his street credentaials as well. Those who thing all hip-hop is negative should listen to this intelligent rap about how to make a reationship work. A light and refreshing breeze for the genre.
(3) DMX "Party Up (Up In Here)" A-. Everything about this song just plain works. THe beat is menacing, the lyrics are hardcore through out and DMX's flow never steps wrong. DMX may have developed a formula for his music, but it's hard to complian when it works so well. Put this next to "What's My Name" and "Fame", and it's clear to seehow unique his music is.
(4) 504 Boyz "Wobble, Wobble" B-. "Collective rap groups" (i.e. Westside Connection, Cool Breeze) can be very good if the artists mend well. The 504 Boyz though, never quite come together as a group; they all seem to be doing their own thing, and aren't very remarkable as individuals. "Wobble, Wobble" is fun and catchy, but doesn't really stick to memory afterwards.
(5) Shyne feat. Barrington Levy "Bad Boyz" B. To put it simply; Shyne is not a quite ground-breaking rapper, nothing to break the mold. His voice, although somewhat intriging, doesn't really have much of an impact. Yet this song works because of the haunting beat and some interesting vocals from Barrington Levy. Not great, but well worth a listen.
(6) Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg "The Next Episode" A. A perfect example of what "gangsta rap" is really about. The lyricvs are tough and explicit, yet the track is really two rappers having a good time. Brief and catchy; this song makes no intention to have depth, as it provides a showcase for two great rappers at the top of there game.
(7) Big Pun "It's So Hard" B+. Not great work by the late, great Big Pun; but still a very well made track. His voice was one of a kind (despit similarities to "Biggie") and the latin beats could always get the body moving. Although more original material would have been nicer, he still does a good job of personalizing it. Strange that Donell Jones doesn't get top billing; he does the entire chorus.
(8) Trick Daddy feat. Deuce Poppito of 24 Karatz, Trina and Co of the Tre+6 "Shut Up" B-. It's kinda nice the way Trick Daddy ventures into the dance genre, but he doesn't have new material to bring with him. "Shut Up", while catchy (the University Of Florida's marching band sampled it), has no real purpose to it. Fun and glitz on the surface is fine, yet there's nothing at all beneath it.
(9) LL Cool J "Imagine That" A. 15 years into the "rap game", and he still sounds as good as ever. Only LL Cool J can take the most explicit content, and make it sound reaxed ands bouncy. This track is like his "Phenomenon"; a thuggish rap all set to a terrific beat with slick, polished production (by Rockwilder). He may possibly be (as he calls himself) "The Greatest Of All Time".
(10) Eminem "The Real Slim Shady" A+. Here's an artist who always does his own thing and stands out from the crowd. This is a hands-down brilliant rap song with umapologetic, biting, hilarious lyrics that carry a bold message. There will never be another Eminem, and that's a relief. "The Real Slim Shady" is THE best song of 2000, and the still young millenium.
(11) Big Tymers "#1 Stunna" A. The Cash Money Label catupulted to stardom in 1999, but have been very hit or misss since. This is one there best hits; Mannie Fresh's cool beat combines with the perfect flowing lyrics to create a highly enjoyable rap song. Hand's down one of the best works from Big Tymers, Mannie Fresh and Cash Money.
(12) De La Soul feat. Redman "Oooh" A-. Always refreshing to hear an old artist come back on top. De La Soul helped bring rap into the mainstream with "Me, Myself and I" (1989), and bring back that same flavor, over a decade later. The song is a demonstration of what hip-hop is truly about. Redman, of course, adds some flavor to this great "throwback track".
(13) Made Men feat. Twice Thou, Benzino and Mr. Gzus "Holla Back (Holla Boston)" A-. I normally deplore anything from Benzino's posse (Made Men, Untouchables, himself), yet I found this to be highly entertaining. It succeeds mainly due to Hangmen 3's stormin' beat, and non-stop menacing lyrics. No depth to it, but it is definetly gret entertaining. And, no, Boston is not a great place for hip-hop.
(14) Three-6-Mafia feat. UGK and Project Pat "Sippin' On Some Syrup" B-. This isn't one of the stonger tracks on the album; it bring nothing new to the genre and has no meaning at all. Yet the beat is so mesmerizing, and sorta quirky, that the song sticks to memory and becomes very catchy.
(15) Lil' Kim "No Matter What They Say" A-. Female rappers often have a difficult time establishing themselves in the rap world; such is not the case with Lil' Kim. This track presents her a tough, smart thuggish rapper who just as hardcore as the guys. Her flow keeps a consitant fast pace, and her voice has a certain appeal to it. This is what female rap should be.
(16) Method Man/Redman "Y.O.U." B. Compared to Method Man's solo work on "Break Ups 2 Make Ups", this is a pretty lackluster track. It not bad, it just doesn't have trhe flow and quality we expect from Meth and Red; although A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" is used very well. Not a bad song, but underwhelming compared to "Tear It Off" and "Da Rockwilder" (both from the "Blackout" LP as well).
(17) Da Brat feat. Tyrese "What'chu Like" B+. Da Brat is not a blindingly talented female rapper (especially when compared to Lil' Kim and Eve), but this song works. That can mainly be attributed to Tyrese's catchy chorus and Jermaine Dupri's slick production. Not groundbreaking by any means, but good fun.
Bottom Line: ****. A perfect example of what a rap compilation SHOULD be. The "Hip Hop Hits" albums started out shaky, and gradually got better before hitting rock bottom. This was the the series peak. There is not a single song here that wasn't a hit, and every track has some entertainment value. THE BEST raps of 2000 are ALL collected on this. I can not think of a better album to represent the phenomenal power of hip-hop at the dawn of the millenium.
1. Country Grammar (Hot...) - Epperson, Jason "Ja
2. The Light - Lynn, Lonnie
3. Party Up (Up in Here) - Simmons, E.
4. Wobble Wobble
5. Bad Boyz - Barrow, J.
6. The Next Episode - Young, Andre
7. It's So Hard - Rios, C.
8. Shut Up - Trick Daddy
9. Imagine That - Smith, James Todd
10. The Real Slim Shady - Coster, Tom Jr.
11. #1 Stunna - Thomas, B.
12. Oooh - Mercer, K.
13. Holla Back (Holla Boston) - Grant, A
14. Sippin' on Some Syrup - PimpC
15. No Matter What They Say - Jones, K.
16. Y.O.U. - Smith, James Todd
17. What'chu Like - Da Brat