This Is The Return Of The Boom Bap... KRS-One Style | Album Review

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Classic Rating: 4 / 6

Released: September 28, 1993

Return Of The Boom Bap is KRS-One’s first album under his own name, prior to this he released albums under the BDP (Boogie Down Productions) name. In a sense, this is KRS-One’s sixth album, in fact, KRS hands over more control to outside producers on this album. Essential 90s hip hop producers like DJ Premier, Showbiz, and Kid Capri handle the production, actually, Preemo produces six tracks, making him the main producer.

The album begins strongly with KRS-One proclaiming that “We will be here forever, forever and ever!” before a delightfully jazzy track by DJ Premier kicks in. It’s an instrumental full of classic KRS-One (BDP) lines scratched in distinctive Premier style. A great way to open the album.

After the dope intro, KRS launches into the first proper track, “Outta Here”, which talks about achieving longevity in the rap industry. The beat is another Premier beat and this one is decidedly heavier than the intro, with deep upright jazz bass and slamming drums. Premier scratches in some dope Slick Rick vocals for the chorus. A strong track.

The album keeps rolling along in strong fashion and the third track, “Black Cop”, slams even harder than the last track. This track is produced by KRS-One himself and it has a strong reggae influence to it, but with a hip hop drum pattern. KRS-One discusses the predicament of being a black cop in a black community, saying “you can’t play both sides” to the black cop.

After “Black Cop” the album goes into mediocrity mode for a while before launching into the intense “Sound of da Police” produced by Showbiz from the Diggin’ In The Crates crew (D.I.T.C.). The beat carries a bouncy and uptempo pattern similar to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Deep Cover” from 1992 (the year before this album). Lyrically KRS essentially proclaims that the whole law and order situation in the black community is futile, proclaiming that “there could never really be justice on stolen land” and that “your laws are minimal”. He goes on to liken the old plantation managers (“overseer”) to the modern day police “officer”. KRS also states that “the black man is still a slave today” while he impatiently awaits the end of the police officer’s authority in the streets, “when it’s gonna stop?”.

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The next track “Mad Crew” is another KRS-One production and this one is pretty mellow. It has an original flavor to it and the chorus is pretty neat. Lyrically KRS is in battle mode, “I give birth to MCs / And I also give abortions”, while the subsequent track “Uh Oh” is a noisy beatbox styled track. 

Next is a dope Kid Capri beat, “Brown Skin Woman”, with KRS addressing African woman’s lifestyle and a small slice of history, i.e. slavery, mixed in for good measure. The overall style, with reggae chants/singing, is really dope and the beat is melodic, creating a pretty catchy song. 

Now it’s time for the title track, “Return of the Boom Bap”, which is produced by KRS and is quite simple with a stripped down sound. This is likely the whole purpose of the song, essentially bringing back the bare bones hip hop sound of say, Run-D.M.C.’s debut

On “P” Is Still Free” KRS brings back “The P Is Free” from Boogie Down Production’s 1987 debut album Criminal Minded. It’s DJ Premier who is behind the music of this updated version, which is slower and jazzier. In the lyrics, KRS talks about selling crack and giving crack to females in exchange for sex (essentially creating a contradiction) because now he has paid for pussy with crack instead of money. Overall, the original is much better.

“Stop Frontin” is a chilled-out track like the previous Kid Capri track, although it’s a really nice beat, the chorus is really irritating and a weak guest verse brings the track down further. 

Luckily the album ends strong and DJ Premier delivers a really nice beat on “Higher Level” which has a vibe that just screams New York City. In fact, D&D Studios (where this was recorded) is located smack dab in the middle of Manhattan on the west side of 37th street. Unfortunately, KRS uses the entire song dissing the Christian religion. The religion of the founders of the amazing city which KRS-One is recording in, namely “The Big Apple”, New York City. Like or love it, that’s freedom for you, the freedom to disrespect and criticize as you please. 

Overall this is a very strong album with many standout tracks with purposeful and highly complex and thoughtful lyrics. The beats are provided by top-level NYC producers and they are banging, no more, no less. This is the Return of the Boom Bap...KRS-One style.

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Alexander Ramalho