Music

"My Philosophy" Is Still Fresh After 25 Years

On Boogie Down Productions' "My Philosophy", rapper KRS-One was as lyrically poignant as he's ever been, delivering rhymes that are just as relevant today as they back in 1988.

The scene opens up, focusing on a picture frame containing a photo of a young man holding his infant son. Children are joyfully chattering in the background. The camera pans out to reveal those children playing with instruments and curiously manipulating a record, rotating it back and forth. A voice is heard, asking "So, you're a philosopher?" A question to which the reply, mixed in with a series of scratches, is "Yes." A VHS cassette is popped into a VCR and the program starts to play. After a brief on-screen countdown, a teacher emerges from a diagonally-parked Jeep and begins to speak.

The man in the picture frame is Scott La Rock, the program is "My Philosophy", and the teacher is rapper KRS-One.

"My Philosophy" was a Stanley Turrentine-sampling single released from Boogie Down Productions' sophomore album, By All Means Necessary. It was their first album following the violent death of Scott La Rock, who was shot in the neck and behind the ear during the summer of 1987 in the aftermath of trying to diffuse a volatile situation that involved D-Nice. Determined to keep moving forward, KRS-One soldiered on his own and eventually secured a deal with Jive/RCA Records after a first deal with Warner was revoked when Scott was killed.

The video was directed by Fab 5 Freddy (who can briefly be seen in the clup) and features KRS-One and the rest of the BDP Posse defiantly walking through the streets of New York and performing in an intimate-but-electrified smoky venue. Images of iconic Black figures like Malcolm X and Bob Marley can be seen as well.

Lyrically, KRS-One was poignant as he's ever been, delivering rhymes that are just as relevant today as they were back then. Launching something that could not be described as anything less than a diatribe against the then-current trends in hip-hop, The Blastmaster proclaims that "rap is like a setup, a bunch of games. A lot of suckers with colorful names." KRS then takes aim at those who were seemingly doing all they could to perpetuate the myth that all black people eat chicken and watermelon, use broken English, and sell drugs. All of which is certainly not true. A gross imbalance between commerce and creativity is also examined, as The Teacha continues on to say that the record labels could care less about integrity and ingenuity as long as their company is selling the product and profiting.

"Don't bother dissin' me or even wishing we [would] soften, dilute, or commercialize all the lyrics...because it's about time one of y'all hear it" is the response that KRS levels at any would-be critics that may think that his message is coming across just a tad bit too harshly.

The song closes out with the line "Fresh, for '88, you suckers" and 25 years later, the tune is just as fresh. It's a testament to the oft-held belief that the best music is timeless and that exceptional philosophical theories will hold up through the years.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.