Class Of '88: KRS-One

With our ongoing Class Of ‘88 features, we have been paying tribute to the immensely classic work that came out that year. So far we’ve gone in with Big Daddy Kane, Eric B., Chuck D., EPMD, MC Lyte, Marley Marl just to name a few. It’s only right though. 1988 is probably the greatest year for Rap music bar none. And truth be told, was the only publication to take things back in order to frame this twentieth anniversary properly.

Now you can’t walk anywhere without tripping on 1988 related content. Yes folks we’ve been swagger jacked. So with that said we are switching up the look. Rather than focusing on one single album, we take a look at the era in question. And who better to provide commentary than KRS-One. He reminisces on the height of crack rock, the lack of organization within Rap then, and analyzes the game now in true Blastmaster fashion.

"We were just getting used to the smell of crack; that was ‘88. 1985 the crack era hit its peak. 1986 and 1987 we start seeing the horrible effects. In '88 it still wasn’t wack to do crack. In '88 you could still go to a club and smell a woolie [blunt] in the air and for those who aren’t in the know, that’s crack with weed. You could smell that all in the air of some of the most famous clubs.

So '88 to me starts right there in terms of the social structure. That was the height of the crack era. This was also the end of the Five Percent era too. This is also the end of the era of the Black man in the street walking around with a book. There used to be a time where men, really Blacks and Puerto Ricans, would walk around New York with books in their hand. Either The Koran, The Bible, something from Dr. [Malachi] York or Behold A Pale Horse. It was like your jewelry, that’s what you were judged by.

This used to go on in our culture due to the influence of the Five Percent Nation. The intricate part to that is that this was the end of that era. '88 is the end of the conscious Black man era; where we used to get in a cipher, not the rhyme cipher, but the original knowledge cipher that was instigated by the Five Percent, that came to an end. This was an era of man that we don’t really see anymore.

The Black man stopped being a Black man in '88. Look at the changing of the guards right there. '88 rolls around and Black Panther Black man, Five Percent Black Man, Marcus Garvey Black man, Nation of Islam Black man, the Moors, that Black man; they all start dying out right around '88; this buffoonery that we have today started to take prevalence. Huey P. [Newton] gets killed in 1989 and Minister Farrakhan started to tone it down.

I don’t really want to dwell on that because that wasn’t really my start; it’s my observation. '88 was to me was also a trying period for Hip-Hop. [Now] when you say MC, I could only count a few MC’s on my hand today. Let me also say this, there are dudes that were dope MCs in the 80’s and ain’t sh*t today. [They] were dope back in the day and now claim that old school sh*t, “respect me because I’m old school”.

“Respect me because if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be eating”, man f*** that! I’m old school too, and at the end of the day these motherf***ers just not practicing. They’re sitting at home playing Nintendo. I don’t know what their story is but at the end of the day I write a fresh rhyme every night before I go to bed. So when you see me on stage you could believe if any n****r want to step up I got some sh*t for your ass; day and night.

Now when I look and see these dudes saying they are the greatest of all times, I be like word? If you can’t spit that sh*t raw on the corner of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue, you ain’t sh*t. This is what '88 was all about. I don’t see too many people doing that today. It’s all about your ice now.

Mceeing is [now] based on how many diamonds you got. You spit one record and motherf***ers claiming king and sh*t. Like what are you the king of, Disneyland? New York isn’t New York anymore. I will never say New York is dead, because there is some heat around here but at the end of the day, the sh*t we had going around in '88, and you can quote me, we had the rest of the nation shook.

West Coast shook, South shook, North shook, overseas shook, and Bahamas shook. We used to walk into Atlanta f***ing deep. And look, I’m not saying it in a way where I’m dissing; I’m saying this as a scholar. I’m saying take a look at MC’s claiming New York, claiming East Coast, claiming they the kings of sh*t in New York. Then compare our kingdom in '88.

When we were spitting in '88, nobody else was spitting! F*** that! And if you were spitting it was Too Short spitting the raw, N.W.A. was spitting the raw. King Tee was spitting the raw, that’s all West Coast.

That’s my point, this is a democracy. You don’t reign forever. You’re supposed to let someone to come after you and let them take that sh*t somewhere further. My problem is my peers. All of ya’ll are bitches, all of ya’ll. We could have been so much smarter with Hip-Hop and we never did. If you think Hip-Hop is big now, we bullsh*tted our way to right now. When we were talking about organizing and getting sh*t together, we was bullsh*tting."