Live Convention 77-79

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Live Convention 77-79Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

For second and third generation Hip-Hoppers, the old singles are too rare and expensive to find, and one must watch Wild Style to get the block party feel of the late '70s. Kenny and Reggie Wilson, two South Bronx residents of the day started compiling live recordings of the parties from Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Disco King Mario. Originally intended for release in 1982, Live Convention '77-79': Sure Shots (Golden Real) emerges as a living archive for what was, what could have been, and what always will be, depending on who's talking.

Salvaged from test-pressing vinyl found in a Newark, NJ record store, Live Convention doesn't sound as much professionally mastered as retro-minded mixes. However, this is the original article. Patched together with extended breaks, slick talking primitive MCs, lots of reverb, Side A speaks more to the Disco dust-smokers than your Cold Crush crowd. With records from Chuck Brown's "Bustin' Loose" to a lo-fi edit of a young MC rocking over Aerosmith's "Walk this Way," this certainly holds current to its 1977-1979 quality. Upon listening, you’ll find yourself running from the Baseball Furies in part, and uprocking with The New York City Breakers in another. Truly classic.

Side B is much more about the party. With clever film interludes, uptempo Disco, and Jazz compositions drive the mix forward. Herman Kelly's "Let's Dance to the Drummer's Beat" into Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real" is the ultimate party-closer. Although the second half of the mix will speak less to the hardcore Hip-Hop demographic, it does pack appeal to today's downtown dancers. Nonetheless, the second side serves as a great example of the resourcefulness of early DJs to create what rap music would become.

Live Convention lives up to its name as strong piece of Hip-Hop history. Just as DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were able to channel the '70s Funk movement through Brainfreeze or DJ Spinbad has been able to recreate '80s dance parties, this is a living archive of Hip-Hop's earliest form. It's not for those with short attention spans, but it teaches just as much as any book on the shelves could.