From the Week of Thursday, May 24, 2001
On The Sneak Attack, KRS-One preaches about the distinction
between rap music and the culture it grew out of, chanting: "Rap
is something you do/ Hip-hop [culture] is something you live." As
with Boogie Down's underrated 1990 classic, Edutainment, some of KRS-One's
lessons on The Sneak Attack are redundant, if not downright preachy, but
taken in context, his lessons inform. Consider The Sneak Attack a public-service
announcement, with KRS-One stepping up as an ambassador from the Temple
of Hiphop (an organization dedicated to the spiritual side of hip-hop,
founded by KRS-One in 1996). In addition to his brother and longtime collaborator
Kenny Parker, KRS-One enlists several producers to create a diverse musical
palette. Harsh blasts of gun-patter beats underpin many of the tracks.
Not everything on the album hits hard, however, as evidenced by the unusually
melodic "Raptism" (produced by Mad Lion), the orchestral harp
and familiar chorus on "Shutupayouface" (Fredwreck), and "False
Pride," a parable spoken over narrative sound effects.
The production here always stays subservient to the main ingredient: KRS-One himself. Whether asserting his rank at the top of the MC lineage ("I'm the teacher but you still can't see.../You respected Tupac/Tupac respected me") or blasting the state of commercial rap ("What kinda world are we livin' on/when a song/will not get on/unless it talks about thongs?"), KRS-One's bombastic voice is as real and down and dirty as ever. And, at 35, the elder statesman of hip-hop still reigns with his trademark style of extending phrases across the line, as only a true master of breath control can.
westword.com | originally published: May 24, 2001