KRS-ONE – NOW HEAR THIS LP Review

By SUNEZ

Knowledge the education from aged students who still are willing to be wrong about anything at any moment.  When Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone speaks the jealousy of the ignorant emerges as the respect of the class fills texts. So the infinity of knowledge that brings equality to the supreme man isn’t allowed. The teacher is chastised for the changes that are just greater wisdom, more profound revelations of purpose all being lived as culture. Just more power brandished toward proper positioning by the add on. They don’t see the methods of the man, they wrongly see a hypocrisy in moving mathematics. That the teacher teaches not for the prizes of obsessed discovery or to be the dispensary of answers via fancy explanations but a sharer of the technique of endless questioning. Questioning of what is by what ought and what may righteously be. Then they go learn more again…

And then they may rhyme like Krs-One. Since 1986, aside from Rakim Allah, no MC is as important to the construction of the complete classic solo LP through lyric techniques, subject diversity of content and concept approach as well as stylistic displays from persona to vocal variations.  At 50 years old, Krs-One and another pioneer legend, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, are the only MCs with classic, superior and/or strong LPs across the last four decades.

With Now Hear This, KRS has a powerful LP that is a literal class model for the young MC of why he is so vital. A distinct Boom Bap sound, as his 1993 classic LP Return of the Boom Bap, overtly defined, Now Hear This is filled with deep bass drums, loud, ear piercing snares and ruggedly distorted chops of digital sounds and flipped samples. It is even more overloaded with fresh!…for ’15!–recreations of innovations that made KRS-1 one of only two absolute GOAT candidates (the other the God Rakim Allah, of course).

From battle ingenuity (i.e. self titled intro), affirmations of these great Hip Hop ethos (“Biterz,” “Duty”), anthemic salutes (“I don’t like to hang out up top/I rather chill with my people down here” -“Let’s Go“) with matching live chorus (“People know I play my part/through my city Art”) to massively challenging understanding.

Understanding of controversial issues that go deeper than the comfortable liberal soft pseudo human stance. So “American Flag” isn’t celebrating the right movement against the crackeroid gmo’d confederate flag just yet when the American flag is the organic, pure uncut devilish banner of manifested massacre destiny still flying. The hypocrisy of the war on drugs is detailed (“Drugs Won“) or the massive chunk of 5 USA states and more that really are the stolen land from my indigenous, Original Mexican family ( “How can they talk about some borders when they are the invaders?/How can they reform immigration when they invaded their neighbors?..This is for my Mexicano people/the whole Earth is yours and no human is illegal…” – “Invaders”) all lead the builds to the zenith solution of “From the Beginning Again” from a moral, ethical and principled renewal that is immediately reflected in the laws. The idealism is enriching while the edutainment is powerfully skilled with the mic techniques on display.

Thrusting the idealism are the techniques in concept structure, vocal inflections and an exaggerated stylistic enunciation that makes every verse perfectly articulated and abnormally easy to listen to through such sharply loud equalized tracks.  Throughout Now Hear This, as nearly all of his LPs since 2001’s The Sneak Attack, Krs-One’s pace and tempo is slowed with greater gaps between words. As his thoughts delved heavier into philosophy that merited essential books (Ruminations, Gospel of Hip Hop) his need to explain and instruct on these empowering and thought-provoking new ideas needed a slower pace.  As with KRS’s exceptional understanding of history, its perspectives and uses, that formed much of his 2010’s Meta-Historical, the depth of Now Hear This fits the slowed tempos KRS takes.  It opens up his inflections on the rhyme sounds as on choruses (“It’s All Insane To Me”) or the patois chanted “This Is All We Got.” It all becomes what I build are KRS’s anti-hooks that are special to his career, and thus standardized within Hip Hop MCing itself, that turns a seeming gimmick into an exhibit of ingenuity. They range from his gift of countering statements chanted as on sellouts with, “millionaires, Yeah!!, but of Black despair,” (“You A Millionaire”) or “The Lingo” that effortlessly extends from his own name acronym to an exercise of expanding the insight of our use and thinking about words with heavy philosophical meaning and connotations attached.  From diet (” Did I eat that?”) to mind (“may I now direct? “) he offers his build on the definition through creative acronyms of them.  So from insights that immediately stick in your mind as hooks, literally KRS was a precursor to the righteous hashtag, to the layered concepts, Now Hear This still shows his mastery to edutain. Coupled with a live show for his classics and these new songs, he still is one of the greatest live performers of the day.

Beatwise the next generation takes the reigns as KRS’s Son of Man, DJ Predator Prime, has a powerful bassline smoothly rumbling through a thickened drum break offering excellent isolation and intense, elongated organ notes on “Drugs Won,” even deeper bass blastover a sparse, hard bass drum smash and vocal vowel snips on “American Flag.”  Mad Lion reps strong with the driving tempo of “Let’s Go” and then the roots riddim of “Invaders.”  Every song offers a unique, easily distinguishable variation without deviating from the massively thick bass drums and lines that boom throughout.  From DJ Static’s guitar riffs blaring through a sharp one, two break on “Soundman” or plodding splash high hats that thicken the Beatminerz’ “Biterz,” the template remains but the results dynamically unique leading to great beat cohesion and addictive apprehension as rewinds increase.

Now then, the Blastmaster has the greatest challenge philosophers must face.  That their knowledge, living as useful wisdom, continues to grow in ever growing moments of revelations of purpose.  That these understandings can be made into lessons as one has used them becomes the work of the teacher.  Lectures, books and another of these incredible albums with Now Hear This, he creatively offers ideas we can use and uplift our purpose in this Hip Hop culture of counter-cultural expressions. Now when knowledge reigns how is it so?  Because it’s own supremacy merits the time and effort to find its fruit by constant study.  And so Now Hear This becomes Then We Listen, Til’ We See…