Pearl: 30 Years of Criminal Minded


Boogie Down Productions – Criminal Minded

Released March 3rd, 1987 on B-Boy Records

Before Biggie and Pac, before Snoop, Dre, and NWA, there was KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock, otherwise known as Boogie Down Productions.  Hailing from the South Bronx, they took spare drum machine beats and Jamaican dancehall rhythms and spun frank discussions of the reality of life in the streets in Eighties NYC over them.  It provided a template for what would eventually become known as “gangsta rap” when Dre did basically the same thing, but on the West Coast and more hardcore.  “9mm Goes Bang” and “The P Is Free” are basically the two basic gangsta tracks in vogue from Straight Outta Compton through to the moment 50 Cent lost a sales competition to Kanye West.  That’s nearly twenty years of guns and hoes, budding directly from Criminal Minded; while KRS-One adopted the moniker of “Teacha” for a completely different reason, one could make the argument that he taught an entire generation of vinyl thugs how to spit.  “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” also pioneered the “this place vs. that place” trope that hip-hop ran on in the Nineties.  BDP and their associates insisted that hip hop began in the South Bronx; rival MCs in the Juice Crew felt that the honour should go to Queensbridge instead, starting a rivalry that didn’t last long but provided another template for hip-hop music.


Another template for hip hop music was unfortunately set five months after the release of Criminal Minded.  After befriending a local kid (D-Nice, later a BDP member and the person that discovered Kid Rock in 1988), DJ Scott La Rock went to go make peace between D-Nice and a rival group of kids.  One of the rival group started spraying bullets everywhere and Scott was clipped in the neck, and died shortly after.  In the aftermath of his death, the group’s deal with Warner Bros. fell through and KRS-One decided that his efforts would be better spent forming the Stop The Violence Movement and pursuing more socially conscious hip hop, a format that he would become far better known for than the early hardcore tendencies found on Criminal Minded.  Regardless of his later career, though, Criminal Minded stands as the jumping-off point for a lot of what hip hop would become as the Eighties turned into the Nineties and beyond.


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