Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boogie Down Productions - 1987 - Criminal Minded - 1988 - By All Means Necessary - 1989 - Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop



Criminal Minded


Tracklisting:

01 Poetry 5:03
02 South Bronx 5:11
03 9mm Goes Bang 4:19
04 Word from Our Sponsor 3:55
05 Elementary 4:06
06 Dope Beat 5:16
07 Remix for P Is Free 4:20
08 The Bridge Is Over 3:26
09 Super-Hoe 5:31
10 Criminal Minded 5:19

All Music Guide Review By Steve Huey:

"Criminal Minded is widely considered the foundation of hardcore rap, announcing its intentions with a cover photo of KRS-One and Scott La Rock (on his only album with Boogie Down Productions) posing with weapons — an unheard-of gesture in 1987. BDP weren't the first to rap about inner-city violence and drugs, and there's no explicit mention of gangs on Criminal Minded, but it greatly expanded the range of subject matter that could be put on a rap record, and its grittiest moments are still unsettling today. Actually, that part of its reputation rests on just a handful of songs. Overall, the record made its impact through sheer force — not only KRS-One's unvarnished depictions of his harsh urban environment, but also his booming delivery and La Rock's lean, hard backing tracks (which sound a little skeletal today, but were excellent for the time). It's important to note that KRS-One hadn't yet adopted his role as the Teacher, and while there are a few hints of an emerging social consciousness, Criminal Minded doesn't try to deliver messages, make judgments, or offer solutions. That's clear on "South Bronx" and "The Bridge Is Over," two of the most cutting — even threatening — dis records of the '80s, which were products of a beef with Queens-based MC Shan. They set the tone for the album, which reaches its apex on the influential, oft-sampled "9mm Goes Bang." It's startlingly violent, even if KRS-One's gunplay is all in self-defense, and it's made all the more unsettling by his singsong ragga delivery. Another seminal hardcore moment is "Remix for P Is Free," which details an encounter with a crack whore for perhaps the first time on record. Elsewhere, there are a few showcases for KRS-One's pure rhyming skill, most notably "Poetry" and the title track. Overall it's very consistent, so even if the meat of Criminal Minded is the material that lives up to the title, the raw talent on display is what cements the album's status as an all-time classic."

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By All Means Necessary


Tracklisting:

01 My Philosophy 5:40
02 Ya Slippin' 4:56
03 Stop the Violence 4:42
04 Illegal Business 5:21
05 Nervous 4:12
06 I'm Still No. 1 5:13
07 Part Time Suckers 5:32
08 Jimmy 4:15
09 T'Cha-T'Cha 4:34
10 Necessary 2:59

All Music Guide Review By Steve Huey

"The murder of DJ Scott La Rock had a profound effect on KRS-One, resulting in a drastic rethinking of his on-record persona. He re-emerged the following year with By All Means Necessary, calling himself the Teacher and rapping mostly about issues facing the black community. His reality rhymes were no longer morally ambiguous, and this time when he posed on the cover with a gun, he was mimicking a photo of Malcolm X. As a social commentator, this is arguably KRS-One's finest moment. His observations are sharp, lucid, and confident, yet he doesn't fall prey to the preachiness that would mar some of his later work, and he isn't afraid to be playful or personal. The latter is especially true on the subject of La Rock, whose memory hangs over By All Means Necessary — not just in the frequent name-checks, but in the minimalist production and hard-hitting 808 drum beats that were his stock-in-trade on Criminal Minded. La Rock figures heavily in the album opener, "My Philosophy," which explains BDP's transition and serves as a manifesto for socially conscious hip-hop. The high point is the impassioned "Stop the Violence," a plea for peace on the hip-hop scene that still hasn't been heeded. Even as KRS-One denounces black-on-black crime, he refuses to allow the community to be stereotyped, criticizing the system that scoffs at that violence on the spoken recitation "Necessary." "Illegal Business" is a startlingly perceptive look at how the drug trade corrupts the police and government, appearing not long before the CIA's drug-running activities in the Iran-Contra Affair came to light. There are also some lighter moments in the battle-rhyme tracks, and a witty safe-sex rap in "Jimmy," a close cousin to the Jungle Brothers' "Jimbrowski." Lyrics from this album have been sampled by everyone from Prince Paul to N.W.A, and it ranks not only as KRS-One's most cohesive, fully realized statement, but a landmark of political rap that's unfairly lost in the shadow of Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions."

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Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop


Tracklisting:

01 The Style You Haven't Done Yet 3:01
02 Why Is That? 3:57
03 The Blueprint 2:54
04 Jack of Spades 4:49
05 Jah Rulez 4:25
06 Breath Control 3:38
07 Who Protects Us from You? 2:25
08 You Must Learn 3:51
09 Hip Hop Rules 4:08
10 Bo! Bo! Bo! 5:21
11 Gimme, Dat, (Woy) 3:04
12 Ghetto Music 3:15
13 World Peace 4:45

All Music Guide Review By Steve Huey

"The second Boogie Down Productions album devoted mostly to consciousness raising, Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop finds KRS-One evolving into a fierce advocate for both his community and his chosen art form. He's particularly concerned about the direction of the latter: he's wary of hip-hop being co-opted by the pop mainstream, and the album's title comes from his conviction that real hip-hop is built on the vitality and rebelliousness of the streets. Accordingly, Ghetto Music contains a few more battle rhymes than usual, plus some showcases for pure MC technique, in keeping with the most basic elements of the music. The production, too, is still resolutely minimalist, and even if it's a little more fleshed-out than in the past, it consciously makes no concessions to pop or R&B accessibility. There are more reggae inflections in KRS-One's delivery than ever before, audible in about half the tracks here, and the production starts to echo dancehall more explicitly on a few. Meanwhile, as the Teacher, he's actually put together lesson plans for a couple tracks: "Why Is That?" and "You Must Learn" are basically lectures about biblical and African-American history, respectively. This is where KRS-One starts to fall prey to didacticism, but he has relevant points to make, and the rapping is surprisingly nimble given all the information he's trying to pack in. Elsewhere, "Who Protects Us from You?" is a bouncy anti-police-brutality rap, and KRS closes the album with the point that "World Peace" can only be achieved through a pragmatic, aggressive struggle for equality. Although Ghetto Music has a few signs that KRS is starting to take himself a little too seriously (he dubs himself a metaphysician in the liner notes), overall it's another excellent effort and the last truly great BDP album."