There’s a reason KRS-One is down by law. He’s one of the only Bronx emcees left that actually lived the progression of hip hop from 1973 to 1993 — and hasn’t sold out along the way. There was the brief Ivy League teaching stint, but KRS-One lecturing at Harvard and Yale must have been positive, yes? Rightly so, the now Atlanta-based “Teacher” is back with his 13th album, Keep Right, geared at letting fools know that indeed, Knowledge still Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.
Keeping in line with the Temple of Hip-Hop movement he helped spawn after his split with Jive records, Keep Right bypasses the ears and goes straight to the soul. Collabs with Mad Lion, Afrika Bambaataa and Buckshot help highlight the important fusion between rap and rebel music on wax. Tracks like “Illegal Business” call out American drug interests, with lines like, “Who you think really bringing the drugs, you no seen?” KRS doesn’t just spit for the conscious; he spits for the world in 2020.
Though there is a self-admitted “I told you so” feel to the album, not unlike most KRS releases, much of this project still manages to educate sans soapbox. Pulpit moments include “Phucked,” a lament to all the flashy emcees of yesteryear who didn’t heed the warnings of KRS and fell off. Yet, the original mad rapper manages his emotions long enough to produce a bona fide gem, with lyrics and fresh cuts like lifejackets for those drowning in the mainstream.
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