Boogie Down Productions

The BDP crew circa 1989.
For me Boogie Down Productions will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the first rap group that I really connected with as a youth. At that time in the early nineties there was a lot of hype about rap being bad for kids. There were even campaigns to get rap banned altogether saying it was purely gang related and preached violence. In the midst of all that negatively I got my hands on BDP’s Edutainment and it’s songs contents were totally the opposite of what was being hyped. Song topics ranged from reading books to not eating meat to the uselessness of violence to black history. Whether you agree with what is said or not these subjects are contrary to the drugged-up gangbanger image that was being shown on the news. Even at that early age I was learning not to trust the media.

Founded in 1986 by KRS-One and Scott La Rock Boogie Down Productions was a major front runner of the hip hop movement. Hailing from the birth place of hip hop, Bronx New York, BDP’s first album “Criminal Minded” has been referred to as one of the best rap albums of all time. Criminal Minded truly is a rap masterpiece to listen to the album today it shines as an original work with quality tracks, you can’t tell that it was made when hip hop was in it’s infancy unlike much of the rap music from that period with it’s poorly structure lyrics and dated sound samples. From 1986 on KRS-One has been involved in dozens of rap albums. His vocals from the BDP period have been sampled countless times by other artists. Even today, over 20 years since the release of BDP’s first album samples from it can be heard on current releases.

Early on BDP was rocked with a tragedy that has destroyed many other groups. In 1987, shortly after the release of Criminal Minded Scott La Rock and some associates attempted to settle a depute between D-Nice(another early BDP member) and some local Bronx hoodlums. After a heated discussion a single shot was fired into Scott’s car as it was driven away. Scott was hit in the neck and died an hour later at a local hospital. In a way this woke up KRS-One that he and Scott were taking BDP in the wrong direction, prior to this shooting BDP touted a hard gangster line, rapping about street life and criminal activities. But after the shooting KRS altered everything, the message of the group changed to that of a more constructive tone. The songs contained messages about social changes and self education. While I got the feeling that these messages were intended more for urban black youth I still found them to be indirectly applicable to myself, a white kid in the suburbs.

Despite it’s positive tracks BDP’s members were almost constantly in flux except for KRS-One. Through it all KRS was the only constant. He’s the main MC and raps on 100% of BDP’s tracks. There have been upwards of about 30 other members through the years with various degrees of participation. While this seems strange the music hasn’t suffered at all and stands on it’s own regardless of what quarreling was going on in the background. BDP released six albums before being dissolved in 1992 by KRS-One for unknown reasons. All of these albums are top notch. I’m partial to Edutainment mainly because that’s the first one that I got into but many people like Criminal Minded and I’ve heard Sex and Violence receive extremely high praise as well. The truth is you can’t go wrong with any of them. Below is BDP’s full catalog…

1) Criminal Minded [1987]
2) By All Means Necessary [1988]
3) Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop [1989]
4) Edutainment [1990]
5) Live Hardcore Worldwide [1991]
6) Sex and Violence [1992]

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