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Article Aug 16 2019 Written by

Way Back: By All Means Necessary (1988)

Boogie Down Productions By All Means Necassary 1988

“I am concerned… about idiots, posing as kings
What are we here to rule? I thought we were supposed to sing
And if we oughta sing, then let us begin to teach
Many of you are educated, open your mouth and speak”

–       Boogie Down Production (KRS-One) I’m Still #1

On May 31, 1988, Boogie Down Productions released their second album, By All Means Necessary. It would be their first release since the tragic murder of founding member, DJ Scott La Rock, as he passed during the making of the album. This forced remaining member, KRS-One, to take on all the writing and production for the project. In Scott’s absence, KRS continued to work under the name Boogie Down Productions but changed the trajectory of their legacy. He ditched the hardcore content from the group’s first effort Criminal Minded. By All Means Necessary spoke more to the ills of the Hip Hop community and aspired to uplift the oppressed.

From the first track, KRS-One signals the change in subject matter. The first words come from a scratched sample asking “so, you’re a philosopher?” with a response that states, “I think very deeply”. That would set the tone for this more serious album. On that same track, he explains his new “teacher” moniker:

“Boogie Down Productions is made up of teachers, the lecture is conducted from the mic into the speaker”

He let us know early on that he had a lot to say and planned on using his platform to spread positivity.

On “Stop the Violence”, Kris wonders aloud why presidents live in luxury while their people struggle. He even encourages his peers to stop the in-fighting that the Hip Hop was initially known for in its early days. In “Illegal Business”, he details the drug trade and the role of the dirty cop:

“The police department, is like a crew
It does whatever they want to do
In society you have illegal and legal
We need both, to make things equal
So legal is tobacco, illegal is speed
Legal is aspirin, illegal is weed”

On Jimmy, KRS playfully reminds us to practice safe sex, an important message coming before the full effects of AIDS and STD’s were realized. On “T’Cha T’Cha”, he shouts the ladies and how not to approach them:

“I always call you females by your name, not ‘Hey!’
Cause ‘Hey’ will only make a real woman turn away”

The final track can barely be described as song. It features KRS speaking over some soft piano and occasional horns. He addresses the double standards the Rap genre faces and vows to achieve a state of peace “by all means necessary”.

The influence of the album has been lasting. Black Moon used a cut from “My Philosophy” as a chorus. Diddy remixed the hook from “Jimmy” and Blackstar did the same for “Stop the Violence”. De La Soul referenced a line from “I’m Still #1” and the overall themes of this album seem to have set a blueprint for how conscious rap would sound for the next 30 years. Even now, when you listen to J. Cole, Kendrick, or the latest “woke” rapper, you’re likely getting a passed down lesson from Rap’s original “teacher”.

Written by

I’m a semi-retired rhymer/producer turned educator, writer, and photographer. I fell in love with beats and rhymes when I was a kid, and these days I strive to keep boom-bap alive. I’m probably “wrestlin’ wi…

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One response to “Way Back: By All Means Necessary (1988)”

  1. For some reason, I ve slept on the Jungle Brothers debut album, Straight Out the Jungle for 30 years now. Hell, I ve slept on the JB s themselves for pretty much their whole career. Yes, they were part of the Native Tongues, possibly the most talented collective of artists hip hop has ever seen, but they were never up to par with Tribe or De La (or even the Black Sheep for that matter). Still though, there is no reason I should have never really played Straight Out the Jungle all the way through for 30 years. I was listening to hip hop in 88, but I just never got into their music. It s actually a very good album, a bit under produced compared to what Tribe and De La would drop, as it s mainly loud drums and loops. It s not as minimalistic as say Run DMC or Schoolly D, but it was still pretty straight forward. The samples themselves is what set them abort as it was the usual James Brown type stuff being down back then. Lyrically, Mike G and Baby Bam probably can t hang with Q-Tip, Pos, or Trugoy (Phife didn t reach his potential until Low End Theory), but they have a certain charm, as noted by the abundance of vocal samples you can catch in the lyrics from later on. It s actually a well rounded album as far as subjects go, as there is political, black pride and the typical boasting of the age, but it makes for a good listen. There are some missteps to be found, but it s definitely better than what I have (erroneously) perceived it as in the past. Rating: 4.25 Favorite Songs: Straight Out the Jungle What s Going On Jimbrowski I m Gonna Do You On the Run Because I Got It Like That Braggin Boastin The Promo

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