KRS-One and Marley Marl

Hip Hop Lives (Koch Records)

KRS-One and Marley Marl Nas dancehall
With stunning production from old rival Marley Marl, KRS-One delivers a sharp retort to Nas' recent proclamation that Hip Hop Is Dead -- but not without kicking some dirt on gangsta culture. The highlights on this 12-track disc are many, including "Nothing New," in which the Teacher delivers his indictment via a Rasta dancehall chorus; the jazzy, bilingual "Musika," featuring Magic Juan; and a caustic track titled, appropriately enough, "The Teacha's Back."

On "This Is What It Is," KRS-One raps, "You done heard the thugs, now hear from the philosophers." Indeed, if there's a flaw in this fine album, it's the faint whiff of patronizing braggadocio. Tracks such as "I Was There," "All Skool," and "Over 30" call unnecessary attention to his seniority, prompting you to tune him out like you would Grandpa reflecting on the old days. But overall, Hip Hop Lives is a total success, once again demonstrating the talent that has made KRS-One a legend.

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