The legendary and unequivocal KRS-One is back with The Kristyle, a lyrical explosion guided by the mental toughness of one of the most influential emcees in hip-hop history. The album, which was officially re-released Aug. 26 after Koch Records tried to release a partial version in June, is a flavorful blend of KRS’s griot-like speech, backed by the reverberations of DJ Revolution and The Beatminerz.
KRS immediately produces lyrical cocktails on the third track of the album “Ya Feel That?” He maneuvers seamlessly between the pitter-patter of beats and spouts ghetto-verbiage like, “My wrist ain’t glittered up/ I don’t even live that life/ Gold, diamonds, platinum/ I give to my wife.”
The presence of one of hip-hop’s true pioneers is also felt on the track “Underground,” where KRS raps about what it means to be underground. The artist uses this opportunity to take a stab at the mainstream rap industry when he says, “Yo, you rhyming’ for the TV or a million CDs/ You ain’t a emcee/ You ain’t underground.” Just like most, if not all, of KRS-One’s previous 11 albums, on The Kristyle he uses intelligence to create a record that incites change and advancement in the rap industry.
Though The Kristyle is a horse of a different color when it comes to lyrics when compared with most rap albums, some of the beats lack innovation and are humdrum at best. “How Bad Do You Want It? (featuring Pito)” sounds like a slightly refitted version of Tru Master’s “Milk the Cow,” a song from Cappadonna’s The Pillage. This album also uses a sample from Brand Nubian’s “One for All” on the track “Survivin’ (featuring Shuman, Taketha and Priest).” Other tracks that might cause the listener to deviate are “Ain’t No Stoppin Us” and “Stop It (featuring Mad Lion),” which sounds like a duet with Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster.
The Kristyle is an example of what a well-rounded album sounds like when it falls short of the artist’s capability. The record has potential to be one of the best hip-hop albums of the year, even though it is intended to be an album mainly for KRS-One fans. Then again, KRS couldn’t care less about album sales or radio airplay. What saves The Kristyle is the unmistakable mix of pure energy and rhymes by this underground auteur. KRS is a conscious reflection of what hip-hop should be, but isn’t right now. This man is more than just a rapper or emcee, he is the essence of hip-hop. And, if other artists take heed, knowledge will reign supreme.