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Gangster rap is associated primarily with the West Coast, but one of its earliest figures was Philadelphia's Schoolly-D who sent shock waves through hip-hop circles with "Saturday Night," "PSK What Does It Mean?" and other hard-hitting tales of inner-city crime and violence included on this 1987 compilation. Instead of simply examining social problems in the third person, he made things especially jolting by rapping in the first person about life as he knew it growing up in West Philly. Unfortunately, the underrated Schoolly never enjoyed the sales or recognition of Ice-T, Dr. Dre or Ice Cube. But listening to "PSK"'s shocking imagery, it becomes clear just how seminal a figure he was. Though Schoolly isn't nearly as graphic as some of his West Coast counterparts would be, there's no denying his influence. For those interested in hearing some of the earliest examples of gangster rap, The Adventures of Schoolly-D is essential listening. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi

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