KRS-One continues to help shape hip-hop music as we know it today, which, if he had his choice, would be a lot more like we knew it yesterday—more elemental in sound and more socially conscious in content. No less a street authority than Wikipedia reminds us that hip-hop is actually a four-pronged culture—rap, breakdance, deejaying and graffiti—and KRS-One (short for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everything) continues to remind us how far from that unifying force today's rap often strays.
His crusade began in 1993 with the release of his first solo record after leaving Boogie Down Productions. Return of the Boom Bap demanded exactly that—a restoration of "boombap," a term invented by A Tribe Called Quest to describe the heavy kick of the bass drum (the boom) paired with the staccato sound of the snare (the bap), which results in the classic sound of hip-hop's oldest schoolers.
KRS-One's mission has met with mixed results in general, but there's no doubt the aggressive, socially conscious style that fills his 12 LPs, six compilation albums and 16 singles has established his personal legacy. His music has been sampled by artists ranging from Mos Def and Talib Kweli to the Beastie Boys. His classic beats are enjoyed by b-boys (and girls) everywhere. And his albums, though not particularly commercially successful, are the few shining beacons of light that have not been overshadowed by that, uh, stuff you hear on the radio today.
Look it up—even Wikipedia can tell you that.
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KRS-One at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-BLUE; www.hob.com/anaheim. Wed., 7 p.m. $20. All ages.