Albums Capture Evolution of '90s Hip-Hop

Rap has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Hip-hop culture, and rap in particular have passed through many stages over the years, hitting pivotal moments in the early '80s and '90s.

That's how producer Quincy Newell sees and hears it.

To demonstrate some of these critical points in that musical evolution, Newell has put together a three volume series titled, Beats and Rhymes: Hip-Hop of The '90s, Parts 1, 2 & 3 (Oct. 28). The series presents a comprehensive sampling that focuses on early '90s hip-hop and rap.

"The early '90s were a different time. It was more progressive, a transitional time, combining lots of different styles. Rap was really blowing up at the time," said Newell. "I mean it had been popular before, but at that time it was like Tribe Called Quest were loved by everyone, white, black, Asian, whatever, it didn't matter."

Included on the collection are songs from A Tribe Called Quest, Heavy D & The Boyz, Naughty By Nature, The Pharcyde, Jungle Brothers and others. Newell says his goal was to get a perfect mix of the artists and songs that were popular at the time. "I wanted to get an accurate sampling of the artists that were doing well commercially as well as the ones that people liked," he said.

Beats & Rhymes: Hip-Hop Of The '90s, Part One, which contains songs released in late '89 and '90 contains such classics as "Rock Dis Funky Joint" by Poor Righteous Teachers, "It's Funky Enough" by The D.O.C., "Erase Racism" by Kool G Rap & D.J. Polo and Boogie Down Productions' "Love's Gonna Get 'cha."

Part 2 includes among others, "Tonite" by DJ Quick, "Now That We Found Love" by Heavy D. & The Boyz, MC Lyte's "Poor Georgie" and "Slow Down" (Radio Version) by Brand Nubian. With the exception of "The Ave." by Run-D.M.C., which came out on their album Back From Hell in 1990, and "Lost In the Storm" (Marley's hip-hop remix) which was on Chubb Rock's 1992 release, I Gotta Get Mine Yo!/ Book Of Rhymes, the tracks covered on this album are from 1991.

Part 3 documents some of raps newer tunes, including "Hot Sex" by A Tribe Called Quest, whose MC Q-Tip's nasal vocal rhythms distinguish the group from their contemporaries. Other highlights from Volume Three are "360 Degrees (What Goes Around)" by Grand Puba, "Who's The Man? (Jeep Bass)" By Heavy D. & The Boyz and "Ya Mama" by The Pharcyde.

"Hip-hop catalogues are hard to find sometimes," said Mike Nardone of Jive Records, who wrote the liner notes to Beats and Rhymes: Hip Hop of The '90s along with famed "Hip-Hop Activist And Media Assassin" Harry Allen, "... I had all the records so we came together on this project."

"The early '90s were pre-gangster rap, before rap had any negative connotations attatched to it," Newell said. "It was a really good time for rap and hip-hop. Something we shouldn't forget."