The three-decade career of KRS-One has included stints as a hardcore hip-hop architect, a political firebrand, and a religious rhymesmith. He became one of hip-hop's most notorious MCs as half of Boogie Down Productions. The fiercely political band's 1987 debut, Criminal Minded
, broke open hardcore hip-hop, with KRS-One's angry, raga-inflected rhymes and ghetto-life commentary laid over minimalist loops. In 1989, KRS-One (a.k.a. Kris Parker) co-founded the Stop the Violence Movement, spearheading the charity single "Self-Destruction."
Fast-forward to his 2002 solo effort, Spiritual Minded. It's an outright gospel rap album, complete with a rhyme about the pitfalls of premarital sex ("Take Your Tyme"). But KRS-One maintains his feud-master image, barbing in the past with such artists as MC Shan, P.M. Dawn's Prince Be, and more recently, with Nelly, whom he called out on his other 2002 album, The Mix Tape. One of the few rappers to release a live album (1991's Live Hardcore Worldwide), KRS-One also boasts a raucous stage act worthy of his Blastmaster title.