Return of the rap philosopher

Issue 

Return of the boom bap

KRS-ONE

Jive Records through BMG

Available on cassette and CD

Reviewed by John-Paul Nassif

Rap philosopher and metaphysician KRS-ONE (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone) is back with a new album. Return of the Boom Bap embodies not only the return of "real rap" but also the return of the sometimes mellow (almost jazzy) rasta sound of the Afro-centric KRS-ONE, plus the lyrical content which characterises his rap. He is incisive, but not at the expense of his humanitarianism.

On the second track, "Outta Here", KRS-ONE pays respect to his former DJ, Scott La Rock, who was shot dead by a mugger in 1988. He also criticises the materialism which is often a consequence of fame:

"Record deal and video: Outta here!/ Mercedes Benz and Range Rover: Outta here!/ Condominium and beach house:

Outta here!/ Credit cards and bank accounts: Outta Here!"

"Black Cop" (featured on the satirical film soundtrack, CB4) addresses the "house nigger" issue and draws parallels between police brutality in the Bronx and in Johannesburg; "Sound of da Police" equates the slave overseer to the police officer of today.

Just about all of the songs on Return of the boom bap have a similar level of social consciousness. The final track, "Higher Level", explores the history of Africans and the oppression they were subject to under white colonialism :

"You wanna know how we screwed up from the beginning?/ We accepted our oppressors' religion/ So in the case of slavery it ain't hard/ 'cause it's right in the eyes of their God/ Where is our God, the God who represents us?/ The God who looks like me, the God that I can trust?/ A God of Peace and Love, not mass hysteria ..."

As well as being a controversial, no-sell-out rap artist for seven years now, KRS-ONE is involved in the "Stop the Violence" movement (a lobby group which aims to combat violence on all levels) and HEAL (Human Education Against Lies), which focuses on exposing misinformation and miseducation. He has also given seminars around the USA, contributed to various campaigns and is a critic on socialisation processes, consumerism, violence, institutionalised evils and the media.