By All Means Necessary
REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/12/2007
I might be committing blasphemy by not saying this is one of the best hip-hop albums ever made.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good album. I just feel like albums such as No One Can Do It Better and Long Live The Kane are more deserving of the accolades commonly associated with By All Means Necessary.
This is the first album issued by Boogie Down Productions after the death of their DJ/producer Scott La Rock, which essentially makes this a KRS-One solo album. There is a distinct difference in the content of this album, which tends to include more positive lyrics than its predecessor, Criminally Minded.
Although Criminally Minded was by no means a negative album, the song title “9mm Goes Bang” would seem out of place next to By All Means Necessary’s “Stop The Violence”. It seemed to be that KRS-One was deeply affected by Scott La Rock’s passing and, consequently, so was his music.
The whole album is filled with heavily sampled beats that basically just serve as a canvas for KRS-One’s lyrical brushstrokes. In fact, “Ya Slippin’” practically robs Ritchie Blackmore, with the sampling of “Smoke On The Water,” but let’s be frank: nobody buys BDP albums for their production.
The highlight on this album comes in the form of BDP’s best song ever, “Stop The Violence.” It’s equipped with an infectious chant so dope that Black Star used it for their track “RE:DEFinition.” ”Stop The Violence” marks KRS-One’s perfect mesh of politics and hip-hop; the plea to “stop the violence in hip-hop” has not penetrated the likes of 50 Cent and Lil’ Wayne, but still, KRS-One has affected the majority of the quality MCs out there in some shape or form.
There are other very good lyrical performances on this album, including the intelligent “My Philosophy,” the political critique in “Illegal Business,” the safe-sex anthem “Jimmy” and the very poetic “Necessary.”
“Necessary” is actually an excellent song and is an excellent closer to this very good album. KRS-One discusses the contradictions that exist in our society in an almost spoken word style, which KRS-One pulls off very well. I wouldn’t mind hearing more of this type of song by KRS-One because his voice is so powerful; the slowed-up tempo allows for his vocal presence to shine.
The problems on this album are “Nervous” and “I’m Still #1”. The latter is pretty much just KRS-One screaming “NEEEEEEEEEERRRRRVVVOOOOOUUUSSSSSS” for four plus minutes. “I’m Still #1” contains a lackluster lyrical performance from KRS-One and numerous shout outs from the MC.
By All Means Necessary has only 10 tracks on it, and when two of them are not very good and back-to-back it definitely affects the album’s mystique. Yet the other eight make it fall just short of a classic. Again, this is not a bad album, so you hate mailers can relax. It's just not the flawless classic some have made it out to be.