When Boogie Down Productions unleashed South Bronx in 1986, it cut through the whoopee of New York radio’s weekend mastermix dance parties with stark vengeance. KRS-One’s unusually erudite rhymes stoked the “Bridge Wars” over the uncluttered granite JB-biting of Scott La Rock and Ced Gee’s production. BDP spearheaded a chillingly-realistic new hip-hop school, cleverly mixing brutal lyrical templates for gangsta rap (9MM Goes Bang) with harsh anti-drugs messages (P Is Free). KRS-One’s conscious resolve hardened after La Rock was gunned-down on the street shortly after the 1987 release of their debut album, Criminal Minded; he KRS became rap’s most articulate wordsmith and social activist.
Mostly taken from the out-of- print The Man And His Music set, (plus early tracks and Red Alert Megamix], this collection demonstrates how KRS-One was destined to operate on wider levels than turf wars, throwing down wit and wisdom under the chest-beating and ragga inflections. While Advance is a rabble-rousing call-to-arms, rare 1986 single Say No Brother (Crack Don’t Do It) is a brutally eloquent statement on (and impassioned warning against) the raging crack epidemic then decimating New York’s ghettoes.
The neighbourhoods and intoxicants might have changed, but the knowledge and power of these tracks sounds fresh and relevant as ever, now carrying the status of sometimes harrowing historical document.