Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 11: Boogie Down Productions - By All Means Necessary (1988)

After 1987's "Criminal Minded," Boogie Down Productions returned in 1988 with the sophomore album, "By All Means Necessary." The title and the cover drew direct influences from the late great Malcolm X, as the term "by all/any means necessary" was frequently used by him, and who can forget this famous photo:

Much like Public Enemy this same year, BDP came with more of a focus on social and political topics of the day, which of course bred more controversy, more lyricism, more messages, you name it. And going back to 1987 a bit before I start the session, Scott La Rock was senselessly murdered that year, and that also prompted a positive change, lyrically, in BDP, to great results. Without further delay, let's get to the session!

Release date- May 31, 1988

All songs produced by KRS-One

1. My Philosophy

"So you're a philosopher? Yes."

"You gotta have style and learn to be original!"

This CLASSIC opener, in which KRS begins to refer to himself as the "teacha," fittingly details the direction that BDP was going in after "Criminal Minded" and the murder of Scott La Rock. During the course of this song, Scott La Rock is mentioned throughout, and I can tell he was on KRS' mind during the making of it, which will be touched on further in a future session.
Grade- A+ 

2. Ya Slippin 

This is not "Poetry Pt. 2" or anything, but man, mixing Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" with the "Poetry" instrumental was a DOPE decision. Tight to def! Oh yeah, and if you thought about testing KRS at that time, you WERE slippin!!
Grade- A+  

3. Stop The Violence

This is one song that is about as apply titled as you can get. You see, everything in hip hop, even at this point in the 80s, wasn't ALL negative. Most of it was positive, and this song is one of many examples. Today's generation would benefit largely from hearing this and other songs like it, in its ORIGINAL form and not a remake.
Grade- A+

4. Illegal Business

"Cocaine business controls America/Ganja business controls America"

25 years later, this song is STILL powerful, with a CLEAR message. KRS shined a much needed spotlight on police corruption as well as our own government's involvement in the drug trade (and trust me, if you're not aware, do your research on the "Iran Contra" scandal, you'll be amazed). This was out there for the world to hear (not just the hip hop world), and as KRS said in later years, they knew all of these things were happening, but when they reported it, no one would listen, and your local news wasn't reporting the facts like they should've either.
Grade- A+

5. Nervous
This was more of an intermission if you ask me, over a good beat. The title still speaks for itself though, lol.
Grade- B

6. I'm Still #1

All The People's "Cramp Your Style" provided the sample for what may be the hardest thing that KRS has ever done, lyrically, and it's my favorite BDP/KRS song to match. The title, again, says it all and he proved it too. CLASSIC.
Grade- A+

7. Part Time Suckers

This was a dope song and I really liked how the Smokey Robinson sample ("Mickey's Monkey") was used here. More on the production later.
Grade- B+

8. Jimmy

Dear reader, here's a good question for you. When is the last time a hip hop song was made about the IMPORTANCE of safe sex? It'll probably take you a long time to answer wouldn't it, lol?! For those that don't know, a "jimmy or jimmy hat" was a form of slang for condoms back in the day. KRS all but details the very importance of safe sex in this classic, and of course, a song like this would benefit today's generation, no question about it.
Grade- A+

9. T'Cha - T'Cha

In a reggae styled cut, KRS more than lyrically embraces his new nickname as the "t'cha," and it's something he still goes by today.
Grade- A

10. Necessary

This is a spoken word outro by KRS, with some things that had to be said, by all means necessary.

Much like Public Enemy did with their second album, "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back," BDP, KRS-One specifically, stepped up in a MAJOR way, especially on the social and political commentary topics. He was more focused on this album as compared to "Criminal Minded" (which is also a classic) and he would continue to get better from here. Production wise, this album bangs, and although it's pretty sample heavy, those samples are CLEVERLY worked and it fit each song so well. Overall, this album will stand the test of time (it was also certified Gold in September of 1989), and like KRS would later say, this album and the aforementioned PE album "set off consciousness in rap."

Final Grade- A+   

RIP Scott L Rock (1962-1987)

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