Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force

  • Planet Rock -- The Album [Tommy Boy, 1986] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Planet Rock -- The Album [Tommy Boy, 1986]
In retrospect, the sheer dumb catchiness of the Kraftwerk hook sweetens one's love-feh relationship with the title tune, and the way "Lookin' for the Perfect Beat" digests, funkifies, and elaborates the winning earnestness of "Planet Rock"'s technofuturism was electrohop's transcendent moment. With the ambitious but unconvincing "Renegades of Funk" filling out side one, you'd figure this for a convenient way to store two classics. But though side two does skip both Bam-Brown's "Unity" and Bam-Rotten's "World Destruction" (because neither bear the Soulsonic Force name, I suppose), two of the previously unreleased tracks are anything but filler. And while one features Melle Mel/Doug Wimbish and the other Trouble Funk, nobody ever said Bam doesn't need help, least of all Bam--there isn't a more public-spirited natural leader on the frenetically competitive rap scene. Which is probably why his groups avoid the male-bonded braggadocio that supplies so much of rap's emotional energy. A-