Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ragga Essentials: In a Dancehall Style [Hip-O, 2000]
A little obvious up top-even rank outsiders know and may own "Hot Steppa," "Telephone Love," and "Ring the Alarm" by now. Not as striking as the VP competition as it moves into the late '90s, either. Nevertheless, this selection has the virtue of isolating tracks that tricked bizzers into envisioning crossover for the likes of Chaka Demus & Pliers, Apache Indian, Junior Reid, and Mykal Rose. As someone who has test-driven several albums by all of the above, I can attest that their direct hits were rare. But because these artists mean to break out of their genre, not to mention their culture, their punch is pretty powerful when it doesn't ask too much of their reach. A-