Music is a young man’s game and a lingering question remains for Hip-Hop. What will happen to legends as they grow old? If KRS-One and Buckshot have anything to say, rap’s senior circuit will keep pumping out albums when they’re being spoon-fed warm peas in the local old folks home. Survival Skills, the latest tutelage from this new collaboration effort proves that both have plenty left to offer music fans in the twilight of their careers.
As duos go, KRS and Buckshot don’t quite echo the chemistry of a Brady and Moss, but their New York roots and common interests (slaying sucka MCs,) work well enough. They benefit from a roster of experienced producers who are able to provide the gritty bass-driven styles both men are comfortable rhyming over. The mids-90s East Coast sound can be heard in the orchestral strings and deep trumpet of Illmind’s “Clean Up Crew,” as Rock from Heltah Skeltah steals the show from the A-listers. “Oh Really,” blends funky keys with a jazzy bass line for as Buckshot wittily elicits his own greatness. Best of all, the 9th Wonder closer “Past, Present, Future,” where Buckshot reminisces on just how far he’s come: “Cause when I look how far I got, a thousand blocks I repped from The House to the housing projects.”
Stylistically, 2K9 Buckshot and KRS-One have very different strengths. While KRS’ flow often ignores the beat behind him in order to fit in his latest platitude, his vocal presence remains astoundingly strong. Questionable lines like “Connection’s” “I’ve been led to switch up the paragraph/any concert I do is an hour-and-a-half/Minimum, classics we’ spittin’ them out…” still sound good at first listen. Buckshot’s quieter vocals can sometimes be overshadowed by KRS’ decibels, but he makes up for it with superior rhyming and execution. “One Shot,” exemplifies how he effectively mixes modern barbs (“you don’t even own your own website,”) with classic Boot Camp Click guns’ n violence (“that’s like having a fight facing a lead pipe…”)
Survival Skills’ shortcomings directly reflect the project’s main themes. As the duo tries to elicit all the things that are wrong about Hip-Hop, they too often come across as grumpy old men. KRS in particular is prone to bouts of cantankerousness and while The T’Cha has earned the right to say what he wants, it’s doubtful the kids will listen. The duo’s preachy style is much more effective when it tackles societal problems such as “Think of the Things,” soliloquy on the harmful effects of deadbeat Dads or stressing the entrepreneurial spirit on “The Way I Live” alongside Mary J. Blige.
Overall this is a solid effort from two Hip-Hop professionals, proving that the most important Survival Skills are talent and dedication to craft. Up and comers should take notice.
Previously Posted — TSS Presents Smoking Sessions With KRS-One & Buckshot | KRS-One & Buckshot – “Robot” Video