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Grandmaster Flash: The Bridge

Along with Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash belongs to the holy trinity of hip-hop's founders. Dude's obviously an unrivaled creative force and visionary, and it would be nice to think he'd do whatever the hell he wanted for the rest of his days. Unfortunately, like most everyone else, Flash wants to stay relevant. And so The Bridge tries desperately to sound current, featuring an all-star cast (Busta Rhymes, Snoop, Q-Tip) and modern-sounding beats. The worst of these apes G-Unit producers or Timbaland, while the grating "Bounce Back" sounds something like a hospitalized meth-head's bedside heart monitor. Hip-hop has changed dramatically since "The Message," but many believe not for the better. Flash would do well to follow his own vision instead of attempting to keep up with the inferior producers and DJs whose careers he made possible. His instincts are superior; he should trust them. 2 stars.