KRS One has long been considered a legend. For some reason, however, he hasn’t been given status in the upper-echelon of greatest MC’s. This is particularly perplexing when one considers that he’s spit more versus than Tupac and Biggie combined. He’s got more albums out than anyone, with maybe the exception of LL and Too Short, and given a minute you could name more than one of his tracks that absolutely floored you; including but not limited to “9MM,” “T’Cha, T’Cha,” “My Philosophy,” “South Bronx,” “Criminal Minded,” “Love’s Gonna Get Ya,” and “Still #1.”
For his part, KRS One (Known also as Kris Parker) and his muse—the never-to-be-forgotten DJ Scott LaRock, as well as his brother and deejay Kenny Parker and various other under the radar producers, have always kept the beats knockin’, too. And, their head-nodding, East coast minded music that sometimes mixes island rhythms and sparse percussion with thick bass, have delivered on knowledge as well as rhyme skills.
With his new joint, the simply titled Life, the MC who will always be remembered for his Boogie Down Production beginnings comes full circle. “Bling Blung,” the lead track, though not as heady as much of his music, hits you with the same kind of repetitious catchiness as his previous cut “Jimmy,” espousing the rampant nature of our society’s current love of all things material. The orchestral arrangement throughout adds an air of class to the proceedings.
“Freedom,” featuring Ishues from Footsoldiers, is a solid affair that features a sung chorus and KRS giving his thoughts on his place in the industry after 20 years of rocking mics. The mellow track allows space for his words to be heard and observed. Other members of Footsoldiers join the T’cha on the up-tempo, rock inspired “Gimme Da Gun” (Raphi), the PE sounding declaration on the state of our union “Mr. Percy” (Triune), and the gutteral groove “I Ain’t Leavin’,” which features Propaganda and has the Blastmaster rededicating himself to the pursuits of the microphone. The refrain: I live for the love of the game/ I spit/ I reign through the struggle and pain/ 19 years strong I been touching they brains/ I ain’t leavin’, I ain’t leavin’, pretty much sums up the mind of the man. Propaganda sounds reminiscent of a young Eminem.
Nothing here sounds as fresh or exciting as the joints on the first three BDP albums. But then again, they’re not supposed to. This is a new era, and there should be a new sound. KRS deserves props for just coming correct. Plus, this is probably the most personal record he’s ever made; usually he talks about the ills and failings of society and its people. This time out he talks a lot about himself and for that alone the record is worth the purchase.