KRS-One & Marley Marl

Hip Hop Lives

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After a 22-year grudge due to a disagreement over the birthplace of hip-hop, KRS-One and Marley Marl finally make amends onHip Hop Lives. Unfortunately, the album that could be a great return to the "edutainment" of BDP ultimately falls short because of its bland lyrical content. KRS-One is too preoccupied with two issues: one being that hip-hop will never die, and the other that he was a prominent hip-hop pioneer in his heyday. His bragging rights are certainly deserved, but instead of using his legendary status to propel hip-hop forward, or to tell interesting stories about the genre, KRS-One rants like a retired professor reciting his résumé while trying to prove that he once reigned supreme. When he's not reading a laundry list of all the major urban historical events that he attended, as on "I Was There" (which could have made for an interesting song with some background facts or lyrics that rhymed), he is professing his true love for hip-hop. He praises the genre, and he spits fire at the critics who claim that the art form is dying, but this album unfortunately doesn't do much in the way of revival. As a natural leader and sharp-minded activist, it's disappointing that KRS-One chose to harp on his status in history instead of embedding powerful social commentary within his rhymes, as he did on older songs like "2nd Quarter Free Throws." The sole purpose of this album seems to be to win over fans new to hip-hop, and that prospect is unlikely, even with Marley Marl's solid and current-sounding beats. Hopefully, the duo will team up again with a more engaging record that targets their core community -- fans who already know hip-hop's past and want to hear KRS-One spout thought-provoking rhymes again.

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