Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Boogie Down Productions: By All Means Necessary [Jive, 1988]
Deprived of the great murdered beatmaster Scott LaRock, KRS-One is reduced to a stark minimalism that matches his mood: still brandishing his piece on the cover, he's as serious as Jesse inside, occasionally pretentious but never full of himself. He criticizes the self-proclaimed kings of a scene too democratic to support royalty and the self-proclaimed godfathers of a scene too young to have an old school, identifies tribalism as the white man's game, and comes out strong for peace through strength. Only "Jimmy" is much fun, and "Jimmy" is a condom commercial. But at his best--"Stop the Violence," which might conceivably catch black radio in a community-spirited moment of weakness--he's as complex and cold-eyed as the kings themselves, with two extras: he's not middle-class and he's on a mission. B+