Review Summary: An excellently delivered album about what hip-hop truly is from an outspoken MC.
What exactly is hip-hop? Well in the words of KRS-One it’s a religion and I suppose that’s the truth. To a lot of people it’s a way of life, they eat, drink and breathe the stuff and they wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t their strong love of hip-hop that kept them together. Like any religion, hip-hop is sacred to its followers and it deserves to be respected. But now days, look at it. There’s so much commercialised rubbish in the industry today and it’s making it pretty hard to respect. Young rappers are only looking for money and “bitches” and fame. They glorify destructive thug and gangsta life which ironically is what most hip-hop artists were originally trying to escape from.
This is what KRS-One sees and he doesn’t like it. On this album he has more than one or two things to say about what hip-hop is really about and that’s what makes this album so good. KRS-One delivers heart felt rap after heart felt rap as he breathlessly delivers his message to anyone who will listen. It’s albums like Meta-Historical that the hip-hop community need to hear. The album kicks off with a short skit proclaiming that “the real hip-hop is right here” almost as if KRS-One wants you to hear the album out just to prove him wrong and honestly the album doesn’t start off very strong. The beginning of “Murder Ya’” feels a little uncomfortable in its delivery and the rap doesn’t really pick up until after the first chorus and even still past there the song itself isn’t very refreshing. But don’t let that fool you, oh no, because what follows it is one hell of an album.
KRS-One just lets loose across the board on this album, relentlessly driving home his message of hip-hop revival, trying valiantly to shed some light on what hip-hop is truly about. His raps build in intensity during every song to the point that he often sounds out of breath near the end of the song. There isn’t one verse on the album that doesn’t sound like it came straight from his soul. However there is quite a bit of material that seems a little self-glorifying, for example, the track “One of Them Days” where he even has a go at selling his book somewhat. That aside KRS-One does a fantastic job of combining his knowledge with his brilliant brand of rhyme. His desire to educate the masses of hip-hop fanatics trapped in the webs of the corporate music industry comes across prominently and clearly. This makes the album very focused as he very rarely detracts from this main idea.
One very cool aspect to this album is its various skits. A lot of people will find the disproportionate amount of skits (9 out of 20 of the tracks are these skits) to be pace killing or somewhat repetitive and unnecessary but the thing is that these little skits all serve an important purpose. It is through these skits that KRS-One delivers some key pieces of knowledge that are important to the album. The skits deal with themes like hypocrisy and hip-hop’s roots in a way that’s easy to understand and straight to the point. All of the skits are spoken over the same beat which doesn’t make for very good variation, but at the end of the day it’s the lessons KRS-One is giving that are the true purpose of the skits and the beats just serve as background noise to keep the listeners attention.
If Meta-Historical has one thing wrong with it, it’s definitely that the beats get pretty boring in some places. Despite this True Master has done a great job on the production side of the album with songs like “Unified Field” and “Knowledge Reigns Supreme” sounding very clean and groovable. But there are lots of points where it’s very easy to just loose interest and stop listening, which is a shame because KRS-Ones rhymes warrant the listener’s full attention. Some of the loops get to the point where the brain has heard the same thing so much that it no longer possesses any sentimental value, it’s just a sound. Although loops are the heart and soul of hip-hop, I can’t help but feel that these particular loops get a bit tired as the song drags on. But in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t all that big of a deal when the rest of the albums parts come together.
Meta-Historical is an excellent hip-hop album about what hip-hop is truly about. Lyrically, it’s something along the lines of the audio equivalent of a hip-hop bible. It’s a challenge to hip-hop fans to stand up and shape up. Production wise, the album could have been a little stronger. Some songs have weak hooks that don’t really get the listener into it and some of the loops are very blatantly just loops, sounding like a record skipping in a convenient place. But it can’t be ignored that KRS-One is one talented MC. His raps on Meta-Historical are all but flawless and very well crafted. Any fan of hip-hop absolutely must listen to this album at some point because it provides a different look at what hip-hop has become today from a perspective you won’t normally find. Be sure to check out this release as it is a massive contribution to the modern world of hip-hop from an exceptional MC that has dedicated his life to the cause.