EHH Review: Criminal Minded

Criminal Minded is one of the most influential Hip Hop Albums ever created, and in my opinion the second greatest ever made

Released in March of 1987 (Four or so months BEFORE Paid in Full) KRS – One and DJ Scott La Rock brought a certain edge and street to hip hop that was brand new to the genre

Beginning with the album cover in which KRS and La Rock are holding guns with live ammo the LP included Reggae themed tunes, Crime narratives, and tackled sex, Drug abuse, as well as poetry

The samples used throughout the album was a mixture from AC/DC rock, interpolations of Hey Jude by the Beatles, and It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel … as well as the prerequisite James Brown loops and samples

The Singles released from Criminal Minded are Hip Hop Classics, some for their innovation, others for the beef that they started (or ended)

“South Bronx”

Rumors are this whole song was done in 2 hours and was sparked because Juice Crew member and DJ Mr. Magic said that BDP was wack, either way once MC Shan dropped “The Bridge”
KRS One whether correctly or not (purposely or not) concluding that Shan said that Hip Hop started in Queens recorded the Borough anthem “South Bronx” attacking Shan and giving props to the pioneers that helped create the art form
… But mostly Dissin Shan

“Party people in the place to be, KRS-One attack
Ya got dropped off MCA cause the rhymes you wrote was wack
So you think that hip-hop had its start out in Queensbridge
If you pop that junk up in the Bronx you might not live”

South Bronx pretty much ignited the “Bridge Wars” and he wasn’t done after a response from Shan (Kill that Noise) The Blastmaster created …

“The Bridge is Over”

The production and track for The Bridge is over is Hip Hop perfection, the snare, the drums and most of all the simplistic piano solo (KRS one played inspired by Supercat’s “Boops”)
KRS One then enters with a reggae chant proclaiming the bridge is over where he systematically breaks down MC Shan and Marley Marl … and a couple of shots at Mr. Magic and Roxanne Shante

“What’s the matter with your MC, Marley Marl?
Don’t know you know that he’s out of touch
What’s the matter with your DJ, MC Shan?
On the wheels of steel Marlon sucks

You’d better change what comes out your speaker
You’re better off talkin bout your wack Puma sneaker
Cause Bronx created hip-hop, Queens will only get dropped
You’re still tellin lies to me
Everybody’s talkin bout the Juice Crew funny
But you’re still tellin lies to me”

“9mm Goes Bang”

This was one of the first crime narratives done in Hip Hop, basically the story goes KRS killed a crack dealer over a dispute involving a woman, The Dealer Peter pulled out on KRS and The Blastmaster blasted him first
The next week people are talking about what happened and I suppose the word got back to Peter’s boys and they went in for revenge, but Kris got the drop on them and killed them as well
Grabbed the money and drugs that was in his crib and went to meet up with Scott La Rock; after he told him the story they rode off in Scotts all black BMW

“Super-Hoe”

While most albums of the Golden Era included a song that featured the DJ and let the Disc Jockey flex his muscle on a track to themselves, instead of that Criminal Minded included “Super Hoe”
This was KRS giving Scott La Rock his props as a ladies man and putting his sexual prowess up front and center…

“Whatever you could do or say inside a bed
Scott La Rock has done and most likely said
He doesn’t argue with a girl cause yes, he has others
Keep updated on all kind of rubbers
Got ones that are lambskin, others that are plastic
One day he’ll open a school for prophylactics”

The song was humorous and had veiled raunch to it, all around classic with the woman singing an interpolation of “Last Night Changed it all” by Esther Williams and the telephone ringing sample
Great song.

“Criminal Minded”

The Title track (And my personal favorite Hip Hop Song of all time) starts with an ode to the Beatles hit “Hey Jude” and uses a Trouble Funk Sample “Let’s get small” KRS One gives a lyrical dissertation on what he and Scott La Rock are all about and why anyone listening probably should not test them

“Ain’t here for no fronting just to say a little something
You suckers don’t like me cause you’re all about nothing
However, I’m really fascinating to the letter
My all-around performance gets better and better
My English grammar comes down like a hammer
You need a style; I need to pull your file”

“Rapping on the mic like this to me is fine
Cause if I really want to battle I will put out a nine
You can see that Scott La Rock and I are mentally binded
In other words we’re both Criminal Minded”

Editorial

I heard a few of the single from Criminal minded before the album came out, random 12″ here and there like Dope Beat and The Remix for P is free
One these songs came on you could tell that KRS and BDP were not like any other emcee or crew that came before them there was a certain type of grit about the beats and the lyrics … even the subject matter itself was different
But they just seemed like they were hungry … mad … had something to prove

The other thing was outside of The Roxanne Wars there wasn’t much dissing going on … MC Shan went after LL Cool J and you had your random battles here and there but for this crew to come right out and diss the Juice crew like that was incredible (and unheard of) The Juice Crew did the dissin not the other way around!
The songs south Bronx and the Bridge is over are so dope and respected BDP Rocks packed/sold out crowds IN QUEENS with these songs!
… Some say that The Bridge is over pretty much ended Shan’s career or credibility
(Shan had more hits after that track though … he’s a Hip Hop legend in his own right)

Critics say that this album was really one of the first inspirations of the “Gangster Rap” genre … I could see that, but it didn’t take the form of what that particular genre later became, for me this album will always be the Yang to Rakim’s Paid in Full Ying … Kris and Ra will forever be linked as the two solo emcees that ushered in the new wave of rhymer

Criminal Minded … you’ve been blinded.

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