After a four-year sabbatical, the self-christened “god” of hip-hop, KRS-ONE, has returned to reclaim his spot as hip-hop’s moral-conscious with Sneak Attack. While Krs’ re-entry comes without the same fanfare/anticipation he is normally accustomed too, Sneak Attack proves that his voice and ideologies have never been more needed.
Though he has not released a solo LP since the poorly-received, I Got Next, (his last solo project, 1999′s Maximum Strength was scrapped). It’s not as if the Blastmaster has been lounging. Granted, he did take a cushy, short-lived A&R stint with Warner Bros., yet, he has remained one of hip-hop’s foremost activists, starting the “Temple Of Hip-Hop”, and releasing a project dedicated solely to furthering the hip-hop culture; a culture for which he has faithfully stuck out his neck for fifteen-years. Now with his own label deal (Frontpage) secured, Krs’ return is marked by his departure from longtime recording companions, Jive, and his resurfacing on the ever-expanding Koch Records roster (Afu Ra, Grand Puba, and RZA).
It’s evident that KRS’ cocky swagger has not suffered during his prolonged hiatus, as he remains the staunchest advocate of his lyrical skills. Illustrated by the boastful barbs of the emcee bashing “Hot” , and “Attendance”, where Krs gleefully details his distinguished list of accomplishments—”I’m the teacher, but you still can’t see, cause while you respected 2Pac, 2Pac respected me.” However, it is the Blastmaster’s knowledge that still reigns supreme. While many of the socially conscious sermons Krs delivers are preachy, and not as indelible as his B.D.P. heyday, they still leave a lasting mark. From the uplifting “I Will Make It”, which implements a church choir for added spiritual effect, too “Why”, which challenges the public education system, it becomes obvious that no one else plays the role of messenger, as effectively as Krs-One (sorry Chuck). Krs offers an insightful, chronological breakdown of his own career path, and for that matter hip-hop’s on the edutaining “Hip-Hop Knowledge” . Furthermore, over the soul-claps, and aggressive synthesizer threads of “The Mind” , Kris tackles law enforcement’s profiling of hip-hop artists. However, the manner in which he does it, asks the artists at hand to take responsibility for their own thug imagery and gun toting exploits—”last verse, KRS blast first, ignorance is bad, but temptation that’s worse, they hide they purse, cause of the way we spit the verse, no one ever told them that they styles rehearsed, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be new to they mind, cause all day rappers confess to doing these crimes, so when the cops see you they ain’t thinking about me, they thinking about taking you out of society.”
While Krs’ passion still resonates, his philosophies remain cutting-edge. The musical accompaniment of Sneak Attack; spearheaded largely by KRS’ brother, Kenny Parker, and others (Domingo, Jazzy Jeff, Grand Daddy I.U. and Krs himself) lacks the unrelenting boom-bap that previous collaborators, DJ Premier, and Showbiz supplied on earlier solo endeavors. In fact Sneak Attack’s main flaw is that the production is very bland, and rarely matches the same level of intensity that KRS rhymes with.
Trying to reprogram, or reach the youth of America is a daunting task, but at least there are still a handful of emcees around, like Krs-One, who are still willing to try. Unlike, much of the class he broke in with, Sneak Attack proves that Krs is still alive, still kicking, and that he has much more to say. Class is still in session.
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