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RAHEEM (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Vigilante (Rap-a-Lot/A&M) 1988

Signed to the majors in the record industry's first mad rush to get hip-hop of any sort onto the roster, this Houston labelmate of Geto Boys came up with a great- sounding album that didn't have a commercial prayer. Under Raheem's raps — a mix of mack/gangster crap and less outrageous boasting — the tracks break out into reggae ("Punks Give Me Respect"), hard soul ("Dance Floor") and hard rock ("Shotgun"). In the disc's most intriguing innovation, "Freak to Me" nearly dispenses with drum and bass beats for an effective rhythmic keyboard/turntable pulse.

[Ira Robbins]