KRS-One, A Retrospective

KRS-One, A Retrospective (2000)

How can you sum up the recording career of one of the greatest MCs in rap history on a single disc? A Retrospective makes a solid attempt by reminiscing on 14 years in the life of KRS-One and his hardcore anthems (“Black Cop”), undisputed hip-hop classics (“South Bronx,” “My Philosophy”), and perfect singles (“Love’s Gonna Get’cha”). His music during the late 80s and early 90s as leader of Boogie Down Productions (his partner, Scott La Rock, was killed in 1987 shortly after making “Essays on BDPism”) had a timeless quality, with its deceptively direct lyrics, and a hard-hitting drum machine beat dressed up with the skimpiest of melodies. Though some of the songs sound dated (especially “I’m Still #1,” which nevertheless is still sampled prodigiously by today’s rap producers), they’re still impressive for their economy and their communication of complex ideas with basic concepts, whether philosophical (“Why Is That?”) or political (“You Must Learn”). But at some point in the mid-90s, KRS-One transformed from a socio-political leader, a Teacha through music, into just another overvalued hip-hop god. A Retrospective charts his evolution from recording potent, visceral tracks (“Criminal Minded”) to making scorching, if slightly calculated, rap hits (“Step Into a World”). Jive.

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