Rap fans (and writers) like to debate the “stranded island” question — if you could only have ten albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what ones would you choose? “Return of the Boom Bap” by KRS-One would be a very strong contender for my own list, but I honestly would have such a hard time limiting myself to JUST ten that it could narrowly miss the cut one day and be prominently positioned on it the next. It’s in consideration every single time though. Although the whole album is fantastic, one song in particular would guarantee it being considered every time the list is made — the DJ Premier produced anthem “Outta Here.”

The thumping production lives up to the album’s “Boom Bap” title and invites you to constantly turn the volume up, at which point you notice the hypnotic buzzing in the background, like a whole swarm of Wu-Tang KILLA BEEZ jumping off the track. It’s an autobiographical track talking about how KRS-One and Scott LaRock formed Boogie Down Productions right as the sound of rap music was changing, and before they could enjoy the fruits of their labor, Scott was gunned down while trying to break up a fight. There’s a poetic irony to the song that Lawrence Krisna Parker was clearly aware of. In the song’s hook he talks about not planning for the future, then notes “No doubt, BDP is old school, but we ain’t going out!” The fact he said this on his first SOLO album outside of Boogie Down Productions is all the evidence you need that BDP wasn’t meant to last. In truth though without Scott LaRock it had always been “KRS-One plus a bunch of other people.”

So if “Return of the Boom Bap” is a hip-hop classic, why are we talking about the “Outta Here EP” instead? Surely you’d want the full album and not what at first glance appears to be a glorified maxi-single featuring the album’s signature track. I can give you three good reasons, and two of them are the instrumentals to “Outta Here” and “I Can’t Wake Up,” both produced by DJ Premier. Any chance to enjoy Primo’s work stripped down to the musical bone is a treat that you shouldn’t pass up. The third is “Feel the Vibe, Feel the Beat.” This B-side track only appears on this EP and a few other 12″ singles from the album, and based on Discogs I believe it’s self-produced by KRS-One. It was good enough that it should have been on the full album, although it may be that Kris was starting to regret his constant character assassination of Prince Be. Four bars in you know how he feels.

“Check it out, check it out, there’s something I must address
This crossover, sugar free rap has got to rest
It causes death — real rap tells you stand tall
Phony rap has you thinking you a PAPER DOLL!”

It’s not the last shot he talks at P.M. Dawn on the song. In fact his whole diatribe about a “one hit artist” could be viewed as an attack on “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” Like other songs from “Return of the Boom Bap” he seems to be unsure of whether or not he’s really on his own yet, saying things like “Boogie Down Productions ain’t no crossover act!” I won’t blame him for that since BDP had been his identity for so long to this point that KRS and BDP were basically interchangeable to both him AND his fans.

If I take exception to anything now that I wouldn’t have in 1993, it’s that the sort of “rap purity” Kris argues for is both insular and non-existent. If it weren’t for “crossover” rap records by the likes of Kurtis Blow, Sugarhill Gang and Run-D.M.C., there would have been no rap music industry for Boogie Down Productions or KRS-One to be a part of. Their success opened the eyes of people at labels like Jive/RCA Records, which KRS-One happily signed with and released many albums through. Was he a “crossover” or a “sellout” then? The subject of what qualifies for that description is too deep to cover in a short EP review, but I can say in retrospect that P.M. Dawn was no worse for rap than De La Soul or Pharcyde. Having a commercial hit didn’t make them bad for hip-hop or untrue to their own artistic vision.

Given the low price the “Outta Here EP” goes for (at least digitally) I’d tell you to go buy it if you’re a BDP/KRS fan. If you’re not familiar with KRS-One at ALL then streaming this EP would certainly be a good place to start, although I’d tell you to quickly move on to records like “Sex and Violence” or the full length “Boom Bap” to gain a much greater appreciation of KRS at his prime than you can get from one short Extended Play.

KRS-One :: Outta Here EP
8Overall Score