Teaching the kids what real hip-hop is all about
, October 24, 2007
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After a 20+ year rivalry, KRS-One & Marley Marl grace the hip-hop lexicon with their stunning return to form - "Hip-Hop Lives". The long-time veterans are back and sound as potent as ever. KRS-One in particular, never ceases to amaze me with his relentlessly boisterous flow. For his 15th album - the man sounds extremely fresh. Marley Marl is still bringing the heat as well, creating soundscapes that consistently knock throughout.
Being a long-time KRS-One/BDP fan, I found the album to be quite a treat, and an excellent return to form. I found it to have plenty of repeat listening value. With that said, I did feel some of KRS-One's lyrics could be a little better. As you know, KRS-One is The Teacher, and this time around, he is teaching hip-hop's legacy. It may seem like a relatively dry subject for a long-time hip-hop aficionado, but it turns out quite well.
Many of the lyrics are very nostalgic, and even more give a new perspective on hip-hop's "true school". The most mind-boggling example of it's redundancy would have to be "I Was There", where KRS-One talks about his past experiences in hip-hop throughout the 80s and 90s. Many hip-hop heads know these facts all to well, but does serve well to the unconverted. Other than that, nothing seems out of place, or of poor quality. "Hip-Hop Lives" makes an excellent single to defy Nas' recent claims on his latest album. Marley Marl's beat on "Musika" featuring Magic Juan is just plain addictive. "Rising to the Top" is probably my favorite joint here. KRS-One beautifully tells the story between Marley Marl's Juice Crew and Boogie Down Productions with lyrics like this - "We answered MC Shan's 'Queensbridge' / A dope jam about where he was from and where he lived / But in the Bronx there was these kids / KRS, Scott La Rock trying to live". The closing lyrics were a nice surprise - "To Marley and Shan I am indebted / For the start of my career these guys could take credit / For my rappin', the whole battle they let it all happen" - proving that battling is an essential part of hip-hop, and keeping it's art sharp. Other stand outs include the excellent "Over 30" and "All Skool". And you really can't beat KRS-One's commentary on "Kill a Rapper" where he professes the fact that when the law or general public is concerned, the killing of a rapper/producer (such as Scott La Rock, 2Pac, Big L or Mac Dre) ends up as an unsolved case in the end. Any way you slice it, KRS-One and Marley Marl come correct with this fine offering. One can only hope that they will continue on make albums until 2015.