I Used to Love H.E.R.: Kyle Rapps

The 52nd installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs, comes from Kyle Rapps, the New Jersey-born and Harlem-based emcee who on March 29 released his debut EP, Re-Edutainment, his own take on the Boogie Down Productions classic Edutainment.

The EP uses samples and loops from the BDP album and features KRS-One, which makes Rapps’ post here all the more fitting.

return of the boom bapKRS-One, Return of the Boom Bap
(Jive Records, 1993)

So I’m at my middle school dance in Princeton, N.J. I’m playing the wall with the rest of brothers praying for a chance to get my first slow dance on with a cutie across the room. All of a sudden we hear “woop woop that’s the sound of the police” and we all instantly hit the floor and start moving, throwing our hands up, etc. Students, teachers, even the police officer designated to make sure fights don’t get out of hand is nodding his head hard-body. The brilliance of this record is that it’s club smash Showbiz production, and infectous chorus contains lyrical content that is going completely over everyone’s heads. KRS-One is breaking down the finer points of police brutality and injustice from every angle, replete with ingenious world play. He does everything from comparing officers to slave plantation overseers, to dropping epic social critiques such as “there can never really be justice on stolen land.”

A week later, after stealing the tape from my local Sam Goody, I was in hip-hop heaven. Listening to the blastmaster recount his rising up in the hip-hop scene after being homeless and battling rappers in the shelter system, to losing DJ Scott La Rock and turning to Public Enemy for support on Outta Here gave me the deepest respect for the Bronx, NYC pioneer. I lost my mind hearing I Can’t Wake Up where he describes his nightmare about being a blunt and having everyone in the rap industry smoking him…creative virtuosity. Black Cop contains timelessly relevent messages to law enforcement around the world. With production by DJ Premier and Kid Capri, every track is winning. Without Return of the Boom Bap, “conscious” hip-hop would probably not exist. Utilizing a street flow and vocal prescence that spans from reggae to funk to jazz, this Boogie Down Productions masterpiece is hip-hop’s Mona Lisa.

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