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Various Artists The Roots of Hip-Hop: From Church to Gangsta

  • Words: Max Herman
  • Label: Harte
  • XLR8R Rating: 7/10

When considering the origins of hip-hop, few look past the Sugar Hill Records era or the Bronx block parties of the ’70s. But the relatively unknown Harte label is attempting to broaden the discussion with The Roots of Hip Hop. This 26-song set collects slices of country blues, boogie-woogie, and acappella church talk–all from the 1930s to 1950s. On the whole, this historic black music is great, yet some selections (like doo-wop love ballad “The Letter”), while enjoyable, have little connection to hip-hop. To Harte’s credit, at times you can clearly hear the influence that has been passed on to MCs, as on the Soul Stirrers’ politically driven “Why I Like Roosevelt (Parts 1 and 2),” and the badass chick braggadocio of “Hot Mama” by Brother Woodman & The Chanters featuring Ethel Brown.

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