There aren't many emcees that have not called it quits since they started making music back in the 80s era of old school rap. Bay Area emcee Too Short has continued his music making career into 2012, since he started back in 1983 with his Don't Stop Rappin' EP, but one cannot forget KRS-One who recently dropped the 2013 album, Never Forget, a spirited force to be reckoned with where "The Blast-master" spits lyrical gems revolving around his favorite subjects, social awareness and intelligence. KRS-One, or Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, was born Lawrence Parker in poverty stricken South Bronx, New York and joined with DJ Scott La Rock and D-Nice to form the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions before La Rock's untimely death and the take off of his own solo career. His run is very decorated, and while some may say his sparkle has diminished over the years, his ferocity and sophistication behind the microphone have never backed down.
Produced by Mad Lion and fused with the sounds of horns, piano, guitar, saxophone, and modest drums sprinkled selectively on various beats, Never Forget's aim is not to feature the most state of the art production, but rather to continue the lineage of thought-provoking, lyrical acrobatics that KRS has perfected since he began crafting his art way back when. He is not the fastest moving mouth in the game, but he delivers his clever rhymes deftly and with remarkable clarity here just like he has always done in the past. The album is dotted with interludes titled as "Transitions" during which KRS speaks from the stage to the crowd as he preps for the next song, so Never Forget has sort of a live show feel to it. He briefly revisits some classic topics like lame, material-minded emcees and living smarter and wiser but treks some new terrain. In "Nina" KRS explains the close but destructive relationship between a man and his gun, making subtle hints at a comparison of the man's age to the number of the caliber of his weapon. "They Are Taking Your Time" and "The System Gotcha" are about the importance of holding on to your dreams, especially if you're seemingly stuck or trapped in a lifestyle you find less than ideal. "Disaster Kit" is a call to get your survival gear stored up in case of an emergency. In essence it is a refreshing message for a society that takes for granted certain bare necessities. Like few emcees have already done, KRS raps on "Invaders" about how Mexicans should reclaim the Americas from the powers that be, on the grounds that their lands were seized from them many years ago. All the signature KRS-One flourishes are here, like his Jamaican dancehall accent and his vocal imitation of rapid gunfire so the authenticity is unquestionable.
The measure of a good artist or emcee is not necessarily how popular or rich they are but rather how creative they allow themselves to be. Because KRS-One has always believed in this credo, he has never forced projects and therefore has let his creative juices flow naturally and uninterrupted, making for music from the mind and heart, whether he is rapping about his poetical storm of fury or never forgetting where you came from in life. Never Forget is brainy and jazzy and never flashy or gaudy. It is a proper addition to KRS-One's vast catalog.