Black drug dealer, you have to wise up
And organize your business so that we can rise up
If you’re gonna sell crack then don’t be a fool
Organize your money and open up a school
With the first and last studio albums from legendary South Bronx, NYC emcee and hip hop cultural icon KRS-One released under the Boogie Down Productions group moniker recently celebrating their respective landmark 30th (Criminal Minded) and 25th (Sex And Violence) anniversaries, I wanted to pick just one to focus on today. Since the former is constantly (and accurately) considered by everybody and their mother as one of the greatest and most important hip hop albums of all time, I will shine some light on the latter, which is probably the least celebrated effort from the BDP catalog.
As I previously stated, Sex And Violence (which officially turned 25 years old last week) is the final album to carry the BDP name before The Blastmaster (one of many aliases used by Kris) officially embarked on his prolific solo career the following year. Whether or not you agree with what he says in his lyrics, Kris’ often controversial social commentary is presented with such confidence, conviction and provocation in a way that at the very least will surely make you think. It should also be noted that while the man is remarkably intelligent and well-read, it can be easy to forget that he also happens to be an early pioneer of hardcore hip hop and ultimately one of the forefathers of gangsta rap; as such, the thunderous boom bap production (courtesy of Kris himself as well as Prince Paul, Pal Joey, BDP supporting member D-Square and Kris’ younger brother Kenny Parker) is solid throughout, while fellow hardcore rap veteran Freddie Foxxx (you know him today as Bumpy Knuckles) shines on a couple of his earliest guest appearances (on the tracks “The Original Way” and “Ruff Ruff”, respectively; the former also serves as the album’s opening song and contains an outro from none other than veteran NYC mixtape DJ Kid Capri).
Kris exercises his trademark Teacher persona most notably on joints like “Drug Dealer” (where instead of denouncing black drug dealers, he calls on them to smarten up and give back to the community if they insist on following that career path), “Questions And Answers” (where Kris brilliantly interviews himself while speaking on the mainstream’s mistreatment of hip hop culture and also attacking the country’s flawed education system; two issues which are still all too relevant today), “Say Gal” (which takes a controversial stance against gold-digging fake rape victims; this one is sure to piss off some feminists), “How Not To Get Jerked” (which provides an inside scoop on the politics and bullshit of the music industry), “Who Are The Pimps?” (utilizing a unique metaphor to address capitalist greed) and the album closer “The Real Holy Place” (where you will hear Kris using his personal brand of metaphysical philosophy to tackle organized religion and inspire the listener to question everything; this sentiment is actually hinted at earlier on “Poisonous Products”).
Kris also responds to previous disses from Afrocentric hip hop group X Clan on “Build And Destroy”, and who could forget the disturbing narrative “13 And Good” (which ends with a twist that you’ll NEVER see coming)? “Duck Down” and “We In There” were released as singles in addition to “13 And Good”, with the former being a hardcore banger and, appropriately enough, the inspiration for Duck Down Music, one of hip hop’s most important and prolific indie powerhouses; co-founded by Black Moon frontman Buckshot, the label is most notable for being home to the grimy Brooklyn, NYC-based supergroup collective known as the Boot Camp Clik).
Sex And Violence has certainly grown on me since I initially heard it years ago, and I can tell you that it’s a lot to digest but absolutely worth the time and effort if you have an open mind and also if you like to nod your head. The issues tackled and touched upon in the lyrics reveal that human society hasn’t made nearly as much progress in the past 25 years (nor in the centuries prior) as one might believe or hope, ultimately deeming the album worthy of more recognition. This joint is a true diamond in the rough, so grab yourself a shovel.