A Month’s Worth Album Review: KRS-One’s “Between Da Protests”

By Daniel Paiz

Well it appears this spinoff series is grabbing interest more than expected, so this second installment of “A Month’s Worth” album review is here. It appears that veteran emcees so far aren’t grabbing as many ears with no particular reason as to why. It might be due to the lack of major marketing being put behind these grizzled emcees. It ‘s also possible that artists like Pharoahe Monch and KRS-One aren’t exactly the center of the Hip-Hop world right now. Either way, strap in for a review of an album that, like others in this series, snuck up on us. Like multiple months after the initial release.

That’s what the Blastmaster does on his albums, though. You keep thinking he can’t possibly deliver bars and yet, he keeps proving you wrong. Maybe that’s what he feeds on, consistent doubt mixed in with a deep love of the culture few others have.

Breaking down “Between Da Projects”

You know an artist paints with his mind and not his hands…

Stay Real– KRS One

The lessons are endless from the Blastmaster. It might come off as a bit of a lecture at times, but to be honest that comes with the territory. An emcee doesn’t last as long as this guy does without dropping some thoughts worth learning from. A lot of what he’s saying isn’t difficult to understand either, it’s really just accepting what’s what right now. What also intrigues me about this album is that sonically, it has a slew of sounds that highlight the verses while not feeling too monotonous.

A shortcoming for some artists who stick to their niche is their beat selection. It’s a very fine line: staying true to your sound and messaging while at the same time providing variation that intrigues and perks your ears up. What’s fascinating about KRS One is that he really doesn’t prioritize multisyllabic rap nor speeding up his delivery. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T and Aesop Rock have all either added one or the other to their technical skill sets. KRS and Rakim seemed to have never changed up their pacing and it forces the listener in a way to listen closer than normal. Check out these simple yet effective lines below:

rappers come and go, always claim they run the show

till they feel that thunder blow straight from the Mother flow

stutter flow, they spit bullshit I spit that other flow

bullshit’s a fertilizer,

maybe it’ll help these brothers grow, I dunno

We Are The Gods – KRS-One

It’s almost like he’s having a conversation with the audience, and they’re sitting there listening on the other end as if it was a one on one conversation. Simplicity is deceptively hard. I’ve always gravitated towards songs that are heavy with multisyllabic lines as well as artists who deliver them. However, those who get right to the point in this fashion and actually say something are exceedingly rare to find.

Album standouts

Opening Remarks, Don’t Fall For It, Stay Real, We Are The Gods and Who You Are all stand slightly above the rest. Some have challenges for the listener. Others are offering the listener a chance to wrestle with the current state of affairs. All of them leave you with something to contemplate, which for listeners like myself that’s always a nice after effect. Now if that’s not your thing, that’s understandable. KRS says a few times that this might not be for you; not everything is meant for everyone out there.

That’s okay, especially if this is new musical territory for you. Honesty is not always present in music; however, that’s not to be confused with vulnerability. There’s plenty of artists who tell you their truths via anecdotal songs revolving around their own life moments. KRS One kind of just gives you the truth, like how things currently are in society today. That’s likely another reason why a lot of Hip-Hop fans can’t consistently listen to him: the realness is too real. Here’s what I’m referring to, for instance on the track Don’t Fall For It:

Yo, me, I’m not a fake dude, I’ma keep it real real

They see through it all, that “America needs to heal” deal

America ain’t really sick, this is what it really is

Gunshots and cages for black and brown little kids

Now they acting like they not the cause of how we live

Do not tell me what you gonna do, I can see what you did

Look at her, look at him, look at them, look at me

Do you see our interests represented in society?

Don’t Fall For It – KRS-One

Knowledge Reigns Supreme isn’t just the first part of his name; the Teacha has plenty of eye-opening statements should you be open to receiving them. Nothing is out of the ordinary, outlandish in any way. What’s wild is, how many people aren’t willing to accept and act when hearing/reading/receiving this kind of information. Check out this album; it likely has something to reflect on that applies to your everyday life.

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