10 Best KRS-One Songs Of All Time

KRS-One Songs

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KRS-One, born Lawrence “Kris” Parker on August 20, 1965, in Brooklyn, New York, is a monumental figure in the world of hip-hop. His journey from the streets of Brooklyn to the pinnacle of hip-hop acclaim is a story of resilience, creativity, and unyielding dedication to the craft. Growing up in a challenging environment, KRS-One left home at 14, facing the hardships of life on the streets. This experience profoundly influenced his music, imbuing it with authenticity, social awareness, and a raw depiction of urban life.

KRS-One’s significance in the music industry stems from his pioneering influence in the development of hardcore and political hip-hop during the 1980s and 1990s. As the frontman of Boogie Down Productions (BDP), he was instrumental in steering hip-hop away from the party scene towards more socially conscious themes. His first single, “South Bronx,” released in 1986, and the subsequent debut album, “Criminal Minded” in 1987, marked the beginning of a new era in hip-hop, characterized by gritty realism and political commentary.

Over the years, KRS-One has released a substantial body of work, including 15 full-length studio albums, several EPs, live albums, and compilations, each reinforcing his status as a hip-hop luminary. His discography is a testament to his versatility, evolving style, and enduring impact on the genre.

KRS-One’s influences include a range of pioneering artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, and the Furious Five, who laid the groundwork for what hip-hop would become. In turn, KRS-One has influenced a plethora of artists across generations, from Eminem to Kendrick Lamar, helping to shape the lyrical and thematic standards of modern hip-hop.

Fans and critics alike admire KRS-One for his ability to blend potent, thought-provoking lyrics with compelling beats. His commitment to social activism, education through music, and unapologetic truth-telling has earned him a special place in the hearts of hip-hop enthusiasts. His contributions to the genre have been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, solidifying his place as a true icon in the music industry.

As we reflect on his remarkable career, here now are our ten favorite songs by KRS-One.

10 – South Bronx

“South Bronx,” a groundbreaking track, was released in 1986 and featured on Boogie Down Productions’ (BDP) album Criminal Minded (1987). Composed by KRS-One (Lawrence Parker) and DJ Scott La Rock (Scott Sterling), the song is a crucial piece in the bridge of hip-hop from its party roots to a more conscious, socio-politically aware movement. KRS-One’s raw, direct lyrics and DJ Scott La Rock’s hard-hitting beats made this song a staple in the genre’s evolution. It’s celebrated for its energetic beat, sharp lyricism, and as a response to the ongoing hip-hop rivalry between the Bronx and Queens. The song’s influence is evident in the works of subsequent hip-hop artists, mirroring KRS-One’s gritty style and commitment to addressing social issues.

9 – Sound of da Police

Released on December 3, 1993, “Sound of da Police” is featured on KRS-One’s album Return of the Boom Bap (1993). This song, composed by KRS-One and Showbiz (Rodney Lemay), stands out for its aggressive critique of police brutality and racial profiling. The distinctive siren-like chorus and KRS-One’s commanding delivery made it an anthem in hip-hop, resonating strongly with listeners amidst the social issues of the time. Its lasting impact lies in its raw portrayal of police relations in the United States, and it has been sampled and referenced in numerous songs and protests since its release.

8 – My Philosophy

“My Philosophy,” a track from BDP’s album By All Means Necessary (1988), was released in 1988. Composed by KRS-One, this song is notable for its intellectual depth and profound social commentary. It challenges listeners to think critically about various societal issues, including education, racism, and the state of hip-hop. The song’s smooth flow, coupled with KRS-One’s articulate lyricism, has cemented it as a classic in conscious rap. “My Philosophy” has influenced a generation of artists who aim to blend social commentary with musical artistry.

7 – MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know

Featured on KRS-One’s self-titled album KRS-One (1995), “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know” was released in 1995. This track, composed by KRS-One and DJ Premier (Christopher Martin), is a tribute to the art of MCing. It showcases KRS-One’s skillful lyricism and delivery, set against DJ Premier’s iconic boom-bap production. The song addresses the declining quality of mainstream hip-hop and challenges other MCs to uphold the standards of the genre. It’s beloved for its classic hip-hop sound and KRS-One’s passionate defense of the culture.

6 – Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love)

“Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love),” from the album Edutainment (1990), was released in 1990. KRS-One’s storytelling prowess is on full display in this track, which offers a cautionary tale about the dangers of materialism. The song’s narrative style and the compelling chorus have made it a favorite among fans. It’s often praised for its relatable storytelling and insightful commentary on the allure and pitfalls of chasing material wealth.

5 – Step into a World (Rapture’s Delight)

Released in 1997, “Step into a World (Rapture’s Delight)” is from the album I Got Next (1997). This track, composed by KRS-One and Jesse West, samples the 1981 Blondie hit “Rapture” and is known for its fusion of old-school hip-hop with contemporary sounds. The song’s upbeat tempo and KRS-One’s dynamic flow make it a standout track. It’s celebrated for its homage to the roots of hip-hop and its ability to bridge the gap between different eras of the genre.

4 – The Bridge Is Over

“The Bridge Is Over,” from BDP’s album Criminal Minded (1987), was released in 1987. This song, composed by KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock, is a direct response to the Queensbridge vs. Bronx hip-hop rivalry. Its reggae-influenced beat and KRS-One’s aggressive lyrics made it a seminal track in the history of hip-hop battles. The song is revered for its raw energy and as a pivotal moment in the East Coast hip-hop scene.

3 – You Must Learn

Featured on the album Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop (1989), “You Must Learn” was released in 1989. This KRS-One composed track emphasizes the importance of education and knowledge of self. The song’s educational message, combined with its catchy beat, resonates with listeners who appreciate hip-hop’s potential to inform and empower. “You Must Learn” stands as a classic example of KRS-One’s dedication to using music as a tool for social change.

2 – Black Cop

“Black Cop,” from the album Return of the Boom Bap (1993), was released in 1993. KRS-One composed this track, which is known for its critical view of African American police officers who are seen as betraying their community. The song’s hard-hitting lyrics and powerful message about systemic issues within law enforcement have made it a provocative and influential track in political hip-hop.

1 – I’m Still #1

“I’m Still #1,” a standout track from BDP’s album By All Means Necessary (1988), was released in 1988. Composed by KRS-One, the song asserts his dominance in the hip-hop world. Known for its assertive lyrics and classic beat, this track is a fan favorite for its embodiment of KRS-One’s confidence and skill as an MC. It’s a quintessential KRS-One song, showcasing his lyrical prowess and his enduring influence in the hip-hop community.

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