Boogie Down Productions‘ 1987 debut Criminal Minded—one of the best ever hip-hop albums from one of its most essential groups—finally gets a 3-CD box set treatment from the good folks at Traffic Entertainment and B-Boy Records.

The Elite Edition package includes remastered versions from the original masters, rare 12″ cuts, and alternative versions as well as exclusive and previously unreleased radio spots and audio footage, and all 10 album instrumentals plus 3 early 12″ instrumentals available for the first time on CD, according to the company’s product description.

Listen and cop it here:

But Criminal Minded is just one of very few best-of rap releases. Angus Batey of the Guardian UK examines the reasons why major record labels haven’t given hip-hop the same reverence that other music genres get when it comes to reissuing music from its iconic groups. In the story “The Hip-Hop Heritage Society,” Batey talks to a range of experts from author Jeff Chang to Chuck D who provide some much-needed insight. Excerpts follow.

Jeff Chang on the lack of available old school hip-hop:

“I find it infuriating that right now it is impossible to find De La Soul’s first six albums on iTunes in the US,” says journalist and author Jeff Chang, whose history of hip-hop, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, won an American Book award in 2005. “Major labels would never let a Jackson Browne album or an obscure new-wave band like Translator go out of print. That’s not to dis Jackson Browne or Translator, both of whom I’ve liked: it’s to make the argument that major labels place a low value on black music not currently on the pop charts.”

Chuck D on who should be responsible for preserving the hip-hop classics:

“You need more people with tenure, with a knowledge of what goes on beyond hip-hop, and a good sense of structure and arrangement,” says Chuck D, who feels artists are best placed to manage their own legacies, and should be allowed to do so. “I dig a cat like Wynton Marsalis: he’s a classic example of somebody I wanna be in hip-hop, because he’s able to damn near preserve the roots of traditional jazz single handedly.”

UPDATE: Chang and Batey continue the discussion on Chang’s blog, touching on copyright issues and cultural legacy.

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