Men rapping inside a studio with headphones in the men’s mouth

KRS-One: Return of the Boom Bap Album Review

By Yarely Ortiz
Music Journalist

Hip-hop is more than music; it is a cultural movement that influences and incorporates different varieties of art. Hip-hop has grown and evolved into a prominent music genre through the decades across the globe. One could argue it is for the best or worst, yet it is hard to deny hip-pop continues to be a phenomenon all over.

Hip-hop emerged from the Bronx in New York City during the 1970s, in which it discussed politics, the economy and the industrial decline. The hip-hop movement emerged from the anger and hardships of the era where it helped those in an economic crisis and rough neighborhoods express their frustrations, cope with violence, and a way to have a creative outlet.

KRS-One, known as Kris Parker, was pivotal in hip-hop by advancing the art of rapping and lyricism. He brought a poetic aesthetic that was not common at the time. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1995 and voluntarily left home at the age of 16, which left him homeless.

Throughout his life, KRS has been able to overcome and survive being in prison, homelessness, the murder of his friend and overall street life. He is considered one of hip-hop’s most influential artists and has faced much criticism and controversy throughout his career.

Return Of The Boom Bap was the first album he released under his name KRS-One on September 28, 1993, with the Jive Record label. Before his solo album, he released albums under Boogie Down Productions’ name.

Return of The Boom Bap was soon considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. The album was produced by DJ Premiere, KRS-One and Kid Caprid, creating 14 tracks measuring up to 56 minutes and 14 seconds.

The album deals with political and social themes. The third track of his album, “Black Cop,” is the first political jab on the record tackling the irony of black men becoming cops for a system that is working against their community.

He raps, “You want to uphold the law, what could you do to me?/The same law dissed the whole black community/You can’t play both sides of the fence.” The song is very catchy as it is followed by a bouncy reggae beat mixed with a hip-hop drum.

On his seventh track, “Sound of Da Police,” he goes on and raps about police brutality and his distaste of police enforcement, which is carried by a catchy uptempo. Throughout the song, he questions the system, critiques cops and goes on to sing about generations previous to him that had to deal with racism by cops and asks, “When it’s gonna stop?”

Although a lot of the songs deal with political and social themes, there are also songs about marijuana like, “I Can’t Wake Up.”  

“Uh Oh,” tells the tale of a wannabe gangster who murders his friend by accident while showing off his guns.Return Of The Boom Bap is a strong album. KRS’s work is raw, complex, and purposeful. The album tackles issues that are still prevalent today and is worth a listen as it is relevant today.

Featured image courtesy of the Return of the Boom Bap album cover.

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