With old-school legend KRS-One teaming with Boot Camp Clik member Buckshot, you can expect high-caliber rhymes and an anti-sellout attitude, but Survival Skills is a diverse, welcome surprise. The radio-friendly, and more importantly, radio-worthy single "The Way I Live" with Mary J Blige is a slicker package than usual from this revolutionary duo, but the polished production is actually from Black Milk, an underground tastemaker who provides a beat right in line with the ambitious spirit of the album. The guest list is an unexpected mix of Slug, K'naan, Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, and reggae singer Bounty Killer, while production is ably handled by the likes of Nottz, 9th Wonder, Ill Mind, and Mobb Deep's Havoc. It's Havoc who outshines them all on the key cut "Robot," an anti-Auto-Tune track with a massive hook and KRS shaking the stick at the younger generation with the usual disgust ("Go online, look up Kraftwerk/Everything you doin' is past work/We already wore that hat, those pants, and that shirt"). Buckshot is hardly a household name and KRS-One's post-2000 discography is alienating with too many releases, but casual fans of more literate hip-hop should check Survival Skills since it's easily accessible and rewarding at the same time. Loyal hip-hop heads with a taste for the old-school boom-bap shouldn't think twice and won't be disappointed.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries