The Best Of Rap City

Various Artists

Fully Loaded / Virgin Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/29/1999

Show me a compilation of the best in the world of rap music today, and I'll show you a hundred kids who have homemade mix tapes that will claim otherwise.

To be fair, rap music is quite possibly the most subjective type of music there is out there. While one person might like one particular track from an artist, a second person could claim a different track represented the same artist's best work. Just because I love Eminem's "Gulity Conscience" doesn't mean the rest of the world will hail it as his best track.

With that in mind, I take issue with the recently-released The Best Of Rap City. Granted, I'm not as schooled in rap music as I once was, and that I'm probably not the best person in the world to be spouting off his views about this genre. But I just wonder how many people would have selected different tracks from the 17 artists featured in this collection -- indeed, how many people would have put in other artists?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I mentioned Eminem before -- and he's represented here with the track "My Name Is... Slim Shady". Interesting to note: this version is different than the version I have on my MP3-version of The Slim Shady LP. How many different versions of this song are there out on the market? Oh well, doesn't matter, 'cause I still love this track.

And I'll go on the record to say that I'm intrigued enough now to check out such artists as Fat Joe ("Bet Ya Man Can't"), Busta Rhymes ("What's It Gonna Be?!", featuring the artist formerly known as Janet Jackson), Nas ("Nas Is Like") and Silkk The Shocker ("It Ain't My Fault 2", featuring Mystical), who all impressed me with their contributions. I've had some discs from Gang Starr in my collection for some time, but I've just never gotten around to listening to them. After hearing "Discipline," I'm more inclined to do so -- in fact, keep an eye out in the next few weeks for a review of their two-disc best-of.

But with some of the other selections on The Best Of Rap City, I just have to wonder if I'm really hearing the best, or what one person claims to be the best. Take Foxy Brown, for example - another artist I'll admit not having a lot of knowledge about. "Hot Spot" is an okay track, but I've heard snippets of other tracks courtesy of Chris Rock, and I wonder if those tracks wouldn't have made better selections on this disc. Same goes for Master P - I liked "Make 'Em Say Uhhh," but is this really the best example of what this guy is capable of? (Yes, I'll gladly take educated opinions on this subject -- e-mail me with your suggestions.)

Mixed in with the names I'll admit I know nothing about were a few blasts from my past, like DJ Quik -- man, I hadn't heard him since I reviewed Way 2 Fonky as a college journalist. Guess I'll have to dig that one out of mothballs thanks to "Hand In Hand" rekindling my interest.

And while gangsta rap is not the force it once was in the industry, it does seem like there's too much style jumping in between these tracks. It feels like you're going in one direction one minute, then you're being thrown into reverse with Beenie Man ("Tell Me") or Sporty Thieves ("Cheapskate") -- and that's not the most comfortable position to be in.

I don't want to discourage labels from putting together compilations like The Best Of Rap City, but they should be aware that "best" is open to a lot of debate in this field. With that in mind, let the debates begin.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fully Loaded / Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.