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The DNA of Hip Hop
on 29 August 2011
The Breaks is a mammoth 31 track two disc compilation that encompasses some of the basic building blocks of Hip Hop. In the South Bronx during the 1970s, break boys & girls (dancers) and DJs would, from an idea conceived and first used by DJ Kool Herc, manipulate the break (an instrumental or percussion section) from a record using two copies of the record and two turntables. Switching between the two decks allowed them to extend and develop the breaks. This in turn lead to early Hip Hop pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa taking the concept further and a whole new genre was born.
The music here consists of the full length versions of early (and sometimes obscure) funk and soul recordings from the late 60s and early 70s that were used by DJs & break boys and later tracks, from the early 80s, that were utilised by Hip Hop artists and producers. The Mohawks legendary 'The Champ' from 1968 kicks-off proceedings in fine style. Itself a reworking of Lowell Fulsom's 'Tramp' (which also features), this funky gem, with Alan Mohawk's addictive organ riff, is one of Hip Hop's most sampled records. The bass line from Liquid Liquid's 'Cavern' will be familiar to almost everyone - it's the source of the sample behind Melle Mel's 'White Lines (Don't Do It)'. Other stand outs include the seriously funky 'Jammin' Big Guitar' by Vaughan Mason and the Jackson 5 inspired sweet soul of Honey Cone's 'Stick Up'. The Stylistics' silky 'Hurry Up This Way Again' (sampled by Jay-Z) slows things right down and Funk Incorporated's epic 'Kool Is Back' is overloaded with some amazing breaks. The laid-back groove of Aaron Neville's 'Hercules' is sublime. Unfortunately James Brown doesn't get a look in, probably due to licensing issues but, nonetheless, this is deliriously good music.
Clocking in just short of 2½ hours and featuring fairly comprehensive liner notes, this is a near immaculate release by Harmless Records. If you have an interest in 1970s funk and soul and / or Hip Hop, then this excellent album deserves a place in your collection.