Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Criminal

In 1987, before mustached track bike hipster dicks, before Vice Magazine, Disney's dick in Times Square, and national tragedies, New York City was still a rough place, even rougher if you were young, black, and talented. The BDP crew knew this all too well, and when BDP member, Derrick "D Nice" Jones, was harassed and bullied by some toughs from the Highbridge projects in the South Bronx, he brought his most reasonable and respected neighborhood friend, Scott Monroe Sterling aka DJ Scott La Rock to help him smooth over the situation. It is unclear as to exactly what was said that night of August 27th, 1987, but as D Nice's Jeep Cherokee left Highbridge, it was sprayed with gunfire, and Scott La Rock was hit. When he arrived at Lincoln hospital he was conscious and was quite lucid, his friends and family had no reason to believe that he wouldn't survive the ordeal. However, DJ Scott La Rock was pronounced dead within an hour of the shooting, he died at the hospital, but did he have to? I don't want to open a can of worms as to the racial implications and disparity of treatment in medical facilities, I wish to avoid conspiracy theories, conjecture, and "what if" scenarios. Let's just leave it that it was a tragedy that probably needed not occur, a tragedy that truly robbed the world of a vibrant and creative performer on the verge of true greatness. I know I am not alone in wondering what Scott La Rock would have achieved had not a bullet and an avalanche of shitty decisions intervened so.

So what about the album that was left behind? Criminal Minded is a classic of proto hip hop and a perfect snapshot of life in the South Bronx at the end of the '80s. Criminal Minded can also boast a number of firsts, firsts that are now staples in hip hop and gangsta rap; it was the first rap record to feature the mebers brandishing firearms on the cover, the first to adopt a Jamaican toast-style delivery, the first to carry a first person crime narrative, and the first to carry any real beef/boast numbers with "South Bronx" and "The Bridge is Over" which were levelled directly at Queens based rappers Juice Crew. KRS One's voice is crisp, his delivery forceful and deliberate. The beats are simple and samples minimal. The end result is a primitive, early piece of hip hop history that alludes at bigger things to come, but still remains highly enjoyable two decades later. In my opinion, BDP's masterpiece was By Any Means Necessary, but it would have never come to be if not for Scott La Rock and Criminal Minded.


19 comments:

stonerphonic said...

I have both versions of this album on vinyl and cd. The "other" version is the album stripped of vocal content and is advertised as an "instrumental" album.

I dig both...

Anthony said...

"mustached track bike hipster dicks, before Vice Magazine" Man! I love thos days!!!! I'm gettin this! Thnx Ace! any chance of getting "Triple 6"? The SF Triple 6 =)

Anonymous said...

classic

Charlie said...

dope!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any Dre Dog (Andre Nickitana)? Dru Down, Seagram, B-Legit? Yes Bay Area rappers are the best. Props for being open minded about music to have hip hoppers and hardcore and metal and sludge and noise and electronica. Variety is the spice.

gamefaced said...

wow. thanks so much for this. and awesome read as well.

JM said...

What a great record. A triumph of minimalism.

Krumbled Kookie said...

Classic.

Jukeman said...

When I was a kid, I didn't think there was anything other than Boogie down productions. Funny, I love old school 'Hip-hop' and rap and I worship at the alter of thrash metal. But, I hate fucking rap-rock.

Anonymous said...

Not to split nappy hairs, but "6 in the Mornin'" by Ice-T ('86) would be considered the first narrative crime rhyme.
Good post regardless.
The debut D-Nice solo album is also amazing if you can find it.

Aesop said...

Hair splitting welcome here. I am aware of the track, just thought this was first. Thanks.

Deathsnake said...

Ice T did it better with "6 in the Mornin'" but Schooly D went in on some Gangsta shit first with P.S.K (Park Side Killers)(What does it mean?).Ice T was the first one catchin bodies on wax. Id give the honor to Ice since he went the hardest and Schooly was just "knockin em out".

Anonymous said...

Great post, Scott La Rock was a fucking sorcerer. It's awesome to see this album get the attention it deserves. One of the best.

Anonymous said...

Ah, was wondering if I'd see this up here. Picked up a copy this summer and have been worshipping this classic since. I mean who, at the time, lyricized so eloquently about an encounter with a crack whore? Gotta be KRS.

Also of note is the significant amount input from Ultramagnetic's Ced-Gee in the production department.

Thanks for takin it back to the oldschool Aesop!

Vill said...

You mentioned vice magazine and the only sorta cool thing with them is the "do or don't" section, where they rag on people's fashions.

The dicks with mustaches and bmx's, sounds like Austin, TX!

Anonymous said...

Nice. I picked up the instrumental vinyl over in Berkeley last time I was out there.

dirtnap said...

well played. an absolultely critical album. that said, i've always felt 'by all means necessary' was krs's finest work.

that debut d-nice record was good as hell too. way better than jamal-ski's! lol

Anonymous said...

any idea what happened to Scott LaRock Jr.?

Clint B said...

Tite jamz.