Ten years and nine albums is a highly unlikely life expectancy in the here today/gone tomorrow world of hip-hop, but self-proclaimed rap specialist KRS-One has both under his belt. Just as significantly, he's remained relevant in a genre that has changed dramatically during the past decade. And with the release of album No. 9, I Got Next, KRS-One has crafted his strongest effort since 1989's Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop.
For once, KRS-One has altered his traditional strategy of minimalist, native-New York rapid-fire beats and mixed it up a bit. Featuring producers like DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill and Rich Nice (of Nas fame), as well as cameos by Redman, New York radio personality Angie Martinez and crooner and label mate Joe, I Got Next is a smorgasbord of jazzy rhythms, R&B melodies and, as usual, old-school boom bap — all propelled by KRS-One's trademark boastful lilts.
"Step Into a World (Rapture's Delight)," the first single, is a clever remake of the Blondie classic "Rapture" featuring new singer Keva cooing the Deborah Harry lead. The cinematic "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" is a gritty tale of warfare between street hustlers and the police over drug profits. Punctuated by gunshots, the song recalls earlier KRS-One masterpieces such as "9mm Goes Bang" and "Love's Gonna Get'cha." "Blowe," driven by a spooky synthesizer riff, represents KRS-One at his most lyrically ferocious. It's that ferocity and commitment to being "strictly about skills" that explains KRS-One's ongoing love affair with hip-hop.