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DOUG E. FRESH AND THE GET FRESH CREW (Buy CDs by this artist)
Oh, My God! (Reality) 1986
The World's Greatest Entertainer (Reality) 1988

Typical of the fast-moving New York rap scene, these two albums by Doug E. Fresh (Davis) — the original human beatbox, and one of the leading young rhymers to pick up from the original old-schoolers like Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow — now sound amazingly quaint. Far removed from the strong content and intense beats of the Public Enemy/N.W.A generation, Fresh runs a moderate course, with a bit of reggae toasting, polite tracks and very little attitude. Originally partnered with Ricky Dee (who later went solo as Slick Rick), Fresh — like nearly all MCs until the late '80s — stuck with 12-inch singles, scoring a 1985 international hit with "The Show (Oh, My God)."

Oh, My God! makes good use of live musicians (trumpeter Jimmy Owens, synthesist Bernard Wright, etc.) and contains an anti-abortion number; The World's Greatest Entertainer also uses real players (including drummer Charlie Drayton), boasts several tracks co-produced by P.E.'s Bomb Squad and ends with a thoughtful rap about visiting Africa.

[Ira Robbins]