Krs-One is Hip Hop. From "Criminal Minded" to "KRStyle", The Blastmasta has always represented and embraced the culture more than any other figure in Hip Hop history. With his thirteenth LP "Keep Right", Krs has set out to once again silence critics who labeled The Teacha as just another emcee past his prime.
While Krs-One's last three releases were met with mixed reactions, "Keep Right" finds Krs more focused than ever. With Boston based Inebriated Rhythm as the albums executive producers, Krs is finally able to gather top-notch production, something that has been lacking since "I Got Next". Content wise "Keep Right" continues to display the same strong message Krs has always managed to put out. However, Krs does offer a little more variety in topics and ideas this time around, making "Keep Right" his most varied album in years.
While Krs certainly does his fair share of preaching and uplifting, as seen on efforts like "Phucked" and "Are You Ready For This", the album does not stay bogged down in this similar pattern as his last few releases have. Instead, Krs gives us a great mixture of life lessons, street tales and Hip Hop knowledge. "Everybody Rise" featuring L Da Headtoucha, is quite possibly the best Krs track in recent memory. With a hungry L on the mic along side Krs, the two work wonders with Soul Supreme's amazing production. Fans may recognize Soul Supreme's production on the track, as he utilized the same sample for his remix of Nas' "You're Da Man", which Dilated Peoples also used for their overlooked gem "Right And Exact".
Besides Soul Supreme, a variety of producers lend their helping hand to "Keep Right". Relative unknown B.Creative steals the show with his mesmerizing production on "I Been There". The standout cut is truly a throwback to the heyday of Krs-One, as it features a great combination of hardcore production and insightful lyricism. Similarly, the Domingo produced "Illegal Business Remix 2004" is another journey down memory lane. Krs gives us a re-twist of the original classic, as the diamond and oil businesses have joined along side the cocaine and ganja from the original. "Diamond business controls America. The oil business controls America. Krs-One still causing hysteria, illegal business controls America". One of the more interesting efforts on "Keep Right" is the Blastamasta's lessons on "Stop Skeemin". The touching spoken word/rap song finds Krs giving knowledge to his friend in jail, who oddly enough just murdered his wife. R&B crooner Joe does a beautiful job singing the songs heartfelt hook, balancing out the spoken word perfectly.
Along with "Prophets vs. Profits", "Keep Right" is easily Krs-One's most consistent effort since his 1995 self-titled release. However, there is a small amount of filler material on the album. Weak production on "Then Again" and "You Gon Go?" leave Krs at a disadvantage from the get go, no matter each songs strong message. "Me Man" is another disappointing effort, as Krs' repetitive wordplay drags on at an abysmal pace. "You told me man, you needed me man. Who the teacha me man, who leaded you me man".
"Keep Right's" biggest flaw is undoubtedly the large amount of skits and interludes cluttered throughout the album. With nine pointless skits, "Keep Right" could have benefited immensely from a large cut down of tracks. There is really no need for the various lessons from Minister Server or a prayer from the legendary Afrika Bambaataa. Also randomly thrown in are shout out tracks from the likes of Buckshot and a DJ Cut by Q-Bert.
While Krs-One will never be the emcee that he once was, he is still capable of making great music. "Keep Right" is proof that when Krs gathers the right assortment of producers the legendary South Bronx emcee can still deliver. Krs is definitely headed in the right direction if he continues to produce material like "Keep Right". And even though many will want to hate, Krs-One will always produced that grown man music, the youngsters will just have to live with that.