1996 is coming to an end here at TimeIsIllmatic. The next three reviews are ‘96 album releases that I added to my collection just in the past few months. Hope you enjoy the read!
Kris Kross became a pop phenomenon when they exploded on the scene in 1992 with their smash hit crossover single, “Jump.” The single would earn a platinum plaque and help propel Jermaine Dupri’s backward clothes-wearing teenage protégés’ debut album, Totally Krossed Out, to multi-platinum success. The Krises would follow up Totally Krossed Out in ‘93 with Da Bomb, and while there were a couple of bright moments on the album (mainly, my favorite Kris Kross song of all time, “Alright”), I thought it was a pretty underwhelming outing for the Atlanta-based duo. Regardless of my thoughts or the album’s quality, it would become Kris Kross’ second consecutive platinum-selling album, but disappointing sales results compared to their debut. After a nearly three-year hiatus, Kris Kross would return at the beginning of ‘96 with their third release and the subject of this post, Young, Rich & Dangerous.
Like their first two albums, Jermaine Dupri would handle all the production on YR&D and he would be responsible for penning most of KK’s bars. YR&D’s lead single would earn Kris Kross another gold plaque, as would the album. While a gold-selling album for most hip-hop acts would be deemed a success, for Kris Kross, coming off back-to-back platinum-selling albums, it was a commercial failure and would be the last album we would get from the teenage darlings.
I stopped following Kris Kross after Da Bomb album, but I bought a copy of YR&D a few months ago on the strength of a recommendation/request of one of my loyal readers. What up Miami Will? Just know your credibility is riding on this one, sir.
Continue to rest easy, Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly.
Some Cut Up – The opening track features JD interpolating Kleeer’s “Intimate Connection” to create a party atmosphere for KK, who goes into Snoop Dogg-lite mode, flossin’, frontin’, and ultimately trying to get some young tender back to the crib for some action, while Trey Lorenz (remember him?) drops in to sing (or speak) a word or two on the song’s refrain. At a minute and forty-five-second run time, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an intro or an actual song. Either way, it’s an odd way to start an album, but strangely, it grows on me with each listen.
When The Homies Show Up – This skit has Kris Kross and their homies plotting to bring some girls (aka “cut-up”) over to Mac Daddy’s house since his mom is out of town. It sets up the next song and it’s also the first time Kris Kross refers to themselves as “C-Connection,” which wouldn’t have been a bad group name to change to if they kept making music as they got older.
Tonite’s Tha Night – This was the lead single from YR&D. As mentioned during the previous skit, Mac Daddy’s mom is out of town and he’s got the house to himself (a house he probably paid for), making for the perfect opportunity for he, Daddy Mac, excuse me, Kris Terry, and the homies to throw a party and take part in all types of drunkenness and debauchery. JD borrows from Faze-O’s “Riding High” to back KK’s turn-up rhymes, carrying over the party vibes from the opening track. It’s a fluffy record that you can easily vibe to, but Trey Lorenz singing on the hook and adlibs is so awful the vibe almost flatlines.
Interview – This skit finds Kris Kross speaking with a journalist and explaining the meaning and reason for the album title, which bleeds into the next song.
Young, Rich And Dangerous – JD puts together a slick groove with a serious feel for the title track, as KK take turns testifying how their success in music allowed them to live a more comfortable and lavished lifestyle (a pet peeve of mine: when people (*cough* Mac Daddy) say things like “my life did a three-sixty,” when they really mean “one-eighty,” because a three-sixty would put you right back where you started). Da Brat co-signs for her new money teenage compadres on the hook and the hip-hop poet laureate from the Dungeon Family, Big Rube, closes the song with one of his signature insightful spoken word poems. I enjoyed this one.
Live And Die For Hip-Hop – Kris Kross hosts this So-So Def cipher session, as Da Brat, JD, and newcomer, Mr. Black, take turns talkin’ shit and Aaliyah (rip) stops by to sprinkle the record with adlibs and sing a ten-second bridge, sounding nothing like I remember her sounding on her own joints, which is not a complaint. All parties involved put their best foot forward with Da Brat easily shining the brightest, but its JD’s simple but marvelously hypnotic flip of Regina Belle’s “Baby Come To Me” that makes this record irresistible and a great choice for the album’s second single.
Money, Power And Fame (Three Thangs Thats Necessities) – This is one of two songs on YR&D that JD loosened the reins and let the duo write their own rhymes. KK gives us more Snoop Dogg-lite, which makes Kris Terry’s accusation that “niggas be tryna steal my style like it was a recipe” laughable. But even more laughable was Mr. Dupri’s reimagining of the instrumental for LL’s “I Need Love.”
It’s A Group Thang – A quick skit that sets up the next song. Is that Kandi Burruss from Xscape playing the role of Kris Kross’ super submissive cut-up?
Mackin’ Ain’t Easy – Mr. Black makes his second appearance of the evening, joining the Macs as they take part in some good old fashion pimpin’ and mackin’. You’ll quickly forget all the generic misogyny spewed in this song, but JD’s mellow melodic soul soothing backdrop will keep you coming back for more.
Da Streets Ain’t Right – This is easily the most gangsta record in Kris Kross’ catalog, yet not gangsta at all. Both Krises share stories about being outside, very high profile and falling victim to robbery by street wolves. I’m sure both stories are fictional, but I still found it amusing that while they claim to “stay strapped” on the hook, both parties were heatless when the wolves came to get ‘em. JD builds the backdrop around a loop of Biggie’s “Warning” (he also includes a clever soundbite from the same record), turning it into a pleasant banger that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Hey Sexy – Can I please get a bottle of water to wash down this corn?
Tonite’s Tha Night (Remix) – I definitely prefer the “Riding High” backed instrumental to the drab and empty feel of this remix. The Dr. Dre vocal snippet on the hook was a nice added touch, though. This song is followed by a quick snippet of the title track to end the album.
The musical maturation of Kris Kross from Totally Krossed Out to Young, Rich & Dangerous is pretty interesting. In just a matter of four years, the duo would go from pipsqueak-voiced teens wearing their jerseys and jeans backward, rapping about jumping and missing school buses to young men with post-puberty vocal tones carrying guns, driving fancy cars, getting drunk, chasing women, all while wearing their clothing the way the designer intended. It’s also a bit of an enigma (shoutout to Keith Murray) how Kris Kross went from setting trends on their first album to heavily following them on YR&D, yet the music on the latter has aged better and is much more enjoyable than the former.
At twelve tracks (two of the tracks being interludes and then a remix tacked on at the end) and a thirty-six-minute runtime, YR&D feels more like an EP than a full-length album, which I have no problem with (The older I get the more I subscribe to the theory that less is more, or at least less is easier to tolerate). On YR&D The Krises’ rhymes are drenched in materialism and misogyny with most of it sounding unbelievably and inauthentic. Nevertheless, most of JD’s production sounds great, making Kris Kross’ cap-filled content easier to digest.
On the title track, Chris Terry raps “You can’t predict the future without mentioning me.” Unfortunately, there would be no future for Kris Kross, as YR&D would mark the end of the duo’s brief run, but at least they saved their best for last. And one can’t help but wonder if being young and rich contributed to the dangers that would lead to Mac Daddy’s tragic end.
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Thanks for finally reviewing this album. I’ve always say this is their best album. I read that they were working on reinventing themselves with the other Chris as the C Connection. But he was killed in a car accident back in 1999. So any music got shelved and is somewhere in JD’s vault. I’ve always said they should’ve released Young Rich and Dangerous or Money Power and Fame as a third single. Or the remix of Tonite’s The Night remix feat. Redman as a single with video. It would’ve helped the album get more sales. I believe what hurt them was two things: 1. The fans that grew up with them had moved on to Wu Tang, Death Row, etc. 2. The older fans damn sure weren’t taking them seriously. When they saw them as little kids talking about “I missed the bus”and “jump”. Only few artists that started as teens like LL and Mobb Deep were able to escape that issue.