Artist: KRS-OneTitle: Keep RightRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios
There is no denying Blastmaster KRS-ONE’s significance in Hip-Hop. The Bronx legend has blessed us with several classics during his historic career as part of Boogie Down Productions (Criminal Minded) and for self (Return of the Boom Bap), while simultaneously playing a pivotal role in the preservation of Hip-Hop culture through his efforts with the Temple Of Hip Hop. The real question at hand is whether or not he is still musically relevant. Now on his 13th album, Keep Right proves that some of these rappers out today can still learn a thing or two from The Teacher.
Lyrically, KRS has not lost his touch on the microphone. The overall cadence on this album is a little more aggressive compared to his most recent releases (Spiritual Minded, The Sneak Attack), but doesn’t at all sound forced. His energetic delivery on the updated classic “Illegal Business Remix 2004” makes the track an instant head-nodder. Kris rides the up-tempo beat effortlessly as he spits political and social commentary with the passion of a battle rapper facing a sudden death round. In vintage fashion, KRS-ONE drops various jewels on “I Been There.” How many MC’s must get dissed?/how many young men must get frisked?/how much ice could really go on one wrist?/how many shots get fired at a target and just miss?/we gonna live like this?” he asks. The track is piano driven with hints of turntable needle static for added effect. The production by B.Creative is reminiscent Havoc’s early work circa Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth album. Other song highlights include the braggadocious “You Gon Go?”, the conceptual “My Mind Is Racing” and the L Da Headtoucha collaboration “Everybody Rise.”
The album’s production compliments the lyrical intensity adequately. With the exception of “Stop Skeemin’,” the beats are gritty and up-tempo. Through the absence of the ever-popular sped up soul samples and the Pop crossover attempt, Keep Right is musically refreshing. KRS also brings producer Domingo back into the fold on “Are You Ready for This.” Other producers include Soul Supreme, Q-Bert and KRS himself.
Keep Right does falter a tad with its structure. The album is 23 tracks deep including 8 interludes. Although these intermissions are not lengthy in time, they somewhat compromise the album’s replay factor. Also songs like “And Then Again” and “Me Man” would have better suited the album if they were longer.
Nitpicking aside, Keep Right is solid. KRS-ONE proves that he can still do the dam thing with out worrying about any upcoming twilight years. Class is still in session.