David Browne
June 12, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Unstoppable 90s: Hip Hop

Current Status
In Season
Coolio, Various Artists
Cold Front, K-tel

We gave it an A-

The hip-hop world of the early ’90s was wildly diverse and often directionless, albeit in the best sense of both words. The East Coast had waned, and the Dre-led West Coast sensibility hadn’t fully coalesced. Filling the gap was the stylistic buckshot captured on Unstoppable 90s: Hip Hop. Befitting an anthology from the urban-music division of K-tel, the album is dominated by a cavalcade of one-hit rhymers.

But what an assortment: Here’s your chance to rediscover the growling charisma of Nine’s ”Whutcha Want?” (the rapper sounds like DMX’s father), the funky spring of B-Rock & the Bizz’s ”MyBabyDaddy,” the lickety-split rhyming of Fu-Schnickens’ ”La Schmoove,” and the techno-hop of Souls of Mischief’s ”93 Till Infinity.”

Toss in tracks by period stars like A Tribe Called Quest (the still-funny ”I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”) and Coolio (the call-to-dance ”[1, 2, 3, 4] Sumpin’ New”), and the result is a collection that emphasizes nimble wordplay, positive thinking, and ear-grabbing musicality, traits that have only recently resurfaced with Mos Def and relative veteran Common. I count only one ”bitch” and one gun-revenge fantasy on the whole thing, and one of the few handgun references amounts to Poor Righteous Teachers’ advice to ”keep ya pistol in ya pocket” on their genuinely unstoppable ”Rock Dis Funky Joint.”

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