The Sneak Attack

KRS-One has been many things in his fifteen-year career — activist, teacher, even thug in the early days - but with his ninth studio album, the rap veteran settles into a new role: motivational speaker. Previously known for taking a mike-shaped sledgehammer to topics like racism, police brutality and even red meat, the hyperdidactic Blastmaster KRS has toned his rhetoric down a bit. He still commands attention, but his booming voice and confidence now deliver warmer, fuzzier messages. On the hard-choired "I Will Make It," he bellows about "changing my situation with creative visualization." There is plenty of typical hip-hop chest-thumping ("Shutupayouface"), offset by some curious a-cappella Bible-thumping ("False Pride"). But cuts like "Get Your Self Up" and "The Mind" win you over with ambiguous yet spirited affirmations atop choppy, energetic loops and walloping drums. Longtime KRS-One fans may lament his lost edge, but don't be surprised if every other MC comes out with a feel-good rap album just in time for summer.