After losing his partner in crime, Scott La Rock, shortly after their debut Criminal Minded, KRS-One showed resilience, coming back to carry on the BDP legacy with their sophomore effort By All Means Necessary. By All Means received heaps of critical acclaim and eventually earned BDP its first gold plaque. Kris’ conscious and battle ready rhymes over raw beats helped solidify his street cred and establish a solid BDP following.
Sticking to the old adage “if it aint broke don’t fix it”, BDP returned in 89′ with their self-produced third BDP album Ghetto Music: The Blueprint Of Hip-Hop (a title which Jay-Z would later use for his own release and Nas would use as ammo against him in their legendary battle). Ghetto Music would earn BDP their second consecutive gold plaque, but the critics reviews were mixed as it would be the first BDP album The Source would not hand a 5 mic rating.
If you’ve read my post, you know I don’t always agree with The Source’s ratings, so take that last statement for what its worth.
The Style You Haven’t Done Yet – Kris opens the show with a reggae flavored instrumental that he uses to let all competitors know he’s a threat to be reckoned with. It’s safe to say this was a message to the Juice crew, based on McBoo closing the song screaming “I’m not down with a juice crew”, or I could be reading way too far into that statement, choose your own adventure. This was a nice way to start the proceedings.
Why Is That? – KRS-One the teacher makes his first appearance of the evening. Over a hard track Kris gives the listener a history lesson, using his first verse to go into detail on the genealogy of Shem, eventually getting to his point: black man is the original man. Kris’ flow get a little choppy during this song but his lyrical content will hold your attention.
The Blueprint – Kris is back in battle mode for this semi-title song. He spits two solid verses over a serviceable beat in serious need of a better mix. Kris’ line: “every time you bite I yell ouch”, always makes me chuckle, or at least smile. All in all this was a decent listen.
Jack Of Spades – This song was originally included on the soundtrack for Keenan Ivory Wayan’s cult classic I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Kris’ rhymes our an ode to Keenan Ivory Wayans’ character, Jack Spade, the ghetto war hero, who comes back home to rid his hood of crime. There’s a video for this song, which includes the closing scene from the movie, with BDP making a cameo which leads into this song, because every good hero should have theme music. By the way, you got change for a hundred?
Jah Rulez – The versatile Kris Parker get his chanting on over this reggae tinged instrumental dedicated to the almighty Jah. Kris actually sounds more comfortable with his delivery on this song than anything else on Ghetto Music up to this point. Afrika from Jungle Brothers makes a cameo on this joint, but don’t get too excited, he just add a few scratches over the funky track. BDP emcee/vocalist, Harmony lends a nice vocal that actually adds to the song instead of just feeling up space, or ruining the song all together. Nice job, Harmony. I never cared much for this song in the past, but today it sound really good.
Breath Control – KRS-One’s back in battle mode, and does a decent job on the mic. The problem with this song is the instrumental: it starts off as a D-Nice beat box before a drum beat and jazzy horns are added, which isn’t all bad. Things quickly go from tolerable to painful when what sounds like microphone feedback, is added to the instrumental making the whole beat sound like a bunch of unbearable noise. Word of advice: do not listen to this if your currently suffering from a migraine.
Who Protects Us From You? – This public service announcement is a rhetorical question asking the police force, who protect us (black people) from police harassment/brutality? I think the Rodney King verdict a few years later answered that one up, Kris. This is nothing more than a spoken word piece that would have gone over better if accapella, as the cheesy instrumental brings nothing to the table.
You Must Learn – KRS-One is back in teacher mode addressing the issues with the public school curriculum, the importance of black youth knowing their history (not just their American history which is often limited to slave ships, “colored” fountains, and MLK) and even shares a little black history. Kris articulates his arguments beautifully, making valid points while displaying his lyrical ability that should easily put him on everyone’s “top 5 dead or alive” list. The instrumental for the remix (the video version) adds a heavier bass line and triumphant trumpets, rendering this mix empty and bland in comparison.
Hip-Hop Rules – Kris breaks out his raggamuffin style for this ode to hip-hop and it’s dominance over other music genres. Kris puts his teacher’s hat back on to run down the history of recorded rap music, before he uses the second verse to boast about his own dominance. But like far too many songs on Ghetto Music, Kris’ instrumental work fails him, again.
Bo! Bo! Bo! – An early morning jog turns into police harassment, that eventually turns Kris into Rambro, blowing random police to smithereens (the line about busting the Snapple bottle off in the cop’s adams apple was hilarious!) before he’s wounded, but still manages to escape the police raid, retreating to safety where he’s given a shower by 3 sistas (because women assisted showers heal all wounds), before Chuck D and Rakim scoop him up to complete the rescue. Kris’ reggae-tinged instrumental was pretty dope (so was his raggamuffin’ flavored hook), and when coupled with his bizarre but entertaining story, makes this song a winner.
Gimme, Dat, (Woy) – This is a song I’ve long forgotten about. KRS-One spits two verses instructing all wack emcees to hand over their imaginary titles. The track, which doesn’t sound remotely close to anything else Kris has spit to on Ghetto Music to this point, sound pretty good.
Ghetto Music – Really? Kris uses the corniest track ever, as the backdrop for him to defend underground hip-hop sound, which is so bad it almost serves as a testament to why you should avoid underground hip-hop. I hate when the title song of an album sucks.
World Peace – The instrumental work is mildly interesting, which sounds extremely layered when compare to the production on the rest of Ghetto Music and late eighties hip-hop in general. But Kris sounds awkward on this track, turning in a flat performance. And with that we’re done. Peace.
There is no question KRS-One is one of the greatest emcees of all time as the depth of his catalog easily proves. The problem I’ve always had with BDP’s early output has been with the inconsistent production, and Ghetto Music:The Blueprint Of Hip-Hop is no exception. Kris and the crew muster up a few good instrumentals, while the bulk of them sound like economical choices, and the remainder, just hot ghetto messes. If you’re a Kris Parker Stan, like myself, you’ll find something to enjoy on Ghetto Music, but if this is your first introduction to KRS-One/BDP, I would recommend starting with Edutainment.