Album: Prophets vs Profits
Rating: 6 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
For all his greatness, the career of KRS-One has been spastic, to say the least. From his influential days with BDP, followed by some dope solo LP’s, to a massive creative lull through much of the 90’s, KRS has seen it all, from critical acclaim to reviews that would shame the one I wrote for the original Alt.Rap Compilation in terms of how scathing they were.
A funny thing happened though. KRS has ALWAYS preached his version of ‘hip hop’, but had rarely practiced it in the most recent stages of his career. Now all of a sudden, he’s back in full ‘prophet’ mode… which has resurrected a career that looked to be in the scrap heap.
“Sneak Attack” was the first shot. An album that like the title suggests, really snuck up on a lot of heads, myself included. While it was by no means a perfect, or even a near perfect LP, it was the warning signal that KRS was back again.
One could consider “Prophets vs. Profits” the actual start of the war that KRS is waging on commercialized, radio-friendly hip hop.
And immediately off the top, he goes after one of the biggest fish in the pond, Nelly, with the scathing ‘Ova Here’ produced by the Beatminerz. Turn this up in your headphones/car/stereo. Feel that rattling? That’s your brain hitting your skull. The bass on this track is magnificent, and the triumphant sounding horns only accentuate the dominating lyrics, as KRS goes to town on Nelly. Sure, Nelly can’t stand a chance, and sure, KRS’ appeals for no one to buy ‘Nellyville’ fell on deaf ears, but a beatdown is a beatdown, and this was most definitely a beatdown. Later on the assault continues on ‘You Don’t Really Want It’. I mean, WOAH.
Unfortunately the rest of the album doesn’t really stand up to the opening track. And once again, like it’s been for many years, it’s the beats. KRS seems to have fallen in love with the ‘heavy metal’ sound that he utilized on tracks like ‘Hot’ from “Sneak Attack”. This is not good. It sounds almost Eminem-ish. And considering the new Eminem is poop, that is also not good.
The tracks that sound best on “Prophets vs. Profits” tend to be the ones that actually let KRS be heard over the din (ie. the more simple beats). This is amplified by the beautiful ‘I Remember’ which utilizes a gorgeous soul vocal loop, and slowed down jazzy piano, as KRS runs down what he remembers from the hip hop he loves. It also highlights how KRS is most effective- when he’s preaching in an entertaining way. It’s one thing for him to tell stories like this, it’s another to have him booming at you every 2 minutes that ‘KRS IS REAL HIP HOP’.
Other standouts include the ode to women, ‘Womenology’, and the the beautifully constructed ‘Problemz’ which features some cinematic violins that stab in and out of the track with nice fluidity.
However, in the end, a couple of factors conspire to keep this album from being exceptional. The first is the aforementioned boringness of the beats. The second is the length. On a longer album, a lot of these ideas could be expanded on, and the ‘preachiness’ factor could be spread out a lot more. At just over 34 minutes, this is too much medicine in too little time to really be something that you can listen to on the regular.