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Grandmaster Flash 

Essential Mix: Classic Edition (Essential/ffRR)

Let's face it: You don't run out and buy a Grandmaster Flash DJ mix for the dopest new beats or for the latest hot jam. No, you get a Flash mix to check out the first superstar DJ's adventures on the wheels of steel -- primitively scratching record to record and tying genres into groovy knots -- and to pay respect to DJ culture before Chicago, Detroit, and Acid House happened.

On his Essential throwdown, Joseph Saddler doesn't surprise you -- he just rocks you with an early '80s vibe that touches upon so many current trends, you'll start wondering if modern life is rubbish. The electro-pop of Nu Shooz's 1986 Top 10 jam "I Can't Wait" can't sound this good nowadays, can it? Liquid Liquid's 1983 white-funk instrumental "Cavern" (which Flash lifted without credit for "White Lines") couldn't possibly define New York's underground better in the 21st century than it did back in the day, could it? And yeah, Bambaataa's here, too. Maybe actually using Blondie's "Rapture" is a bit too self-serving. But after all, who started this thing? Flash, that's who. Socially speaking, he's still fast, and 2002's just trying to catch up.

More by Piotr Orlov

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