Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Run-D.M.C.: Greatest Hits [Arista/BMG Heritage, 2002]
Utilitarian, which suits them. At least it's sequenced with a sense of continuity, and unlike the deleted Profile job, it abjures remixes, live collectibles, and Back From Hell. Sure Run-D.M.C. and Raising Hell are good-to-excellent historical artifacts that render it superfluous. But what no one dares say is that by the standards of the aesthetic they made possible Run-D.M.C. are a little crude. Their rock-solid funk is more Memphis than New Orleans, their declamation the opposite of flow as Rakim defined it, their blunt rhyming neither spontaneous beat prosody nor the blaxploitation real of gangsta's true lies. In fact, for such big influences their straightforward sound is kind of unique, and their greatness harder to hear than it's supposed to be. On these 17 tracks, the consistency and reliability their hard-working music implied is a reality worthy of the lower-middle-class 'hood they represented. A