Review #239: Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions

Karla Clifton
2 min readFeb 16, 2022


#239: Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions

Believe it or not, I’d heard of KRS-One. Sublime has a song titled “KRS-One” on their debut 40oz. To Freedom, where Bradley Nowell outlines the many things he knows because of KRS-One.

Boogie Down Productions is not a music label, but a hip-hop group created by KRS and DJ Scott La Rock, who died shortly after Criminal Minded’s release while trying to break up a fight. KRS and SLR spend a lot of time shouting one another’s names, which makes the whole thing seem retrospectively eery, like listening to all the car references on Electric Warrior by T. Rex (#188). Though I did get used to it by the time I reached “Super Hoe,” which features a singsongy chorus declaring that La Rock has had ’em all.

But don’t let that fool you: Songs like “Elementary” and “Poetry” insist that this is music to be taken seriously. So much of this 1987 release was ahead of its time — I wrote down De La Soul, Eric B & Rakim, the Notorious B.I.G., and Eminem as artists that came to mind while I listened to this album.

There’s plenty of classic rock callouts. “South Bronx” features samples from James Brown’s “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” (#54). “Dope Beat” uses a sample from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” (#84). “The Bridge Is Over” interpolates from Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me.” “Criminal Minded” kicks off with a rap styled after “Hey Jude.”

You may notice that many of these samples were lifted from albums we’ve already encountered on our Odyssey through the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. As we approach the midway point, I have to say that that’s still what I find surprising. Music talks to itself across the decades, resurrects bygone eras while burying its predecessors. There is only one degree of separation between James Brown and Sublime, and I think that’s beautiful.

Other Highlights: “9mm Goes Bang,” “Word from Our Sponsor,” “Remix for P is Free.”

Review #238: Trans Europe Express, Kraftwerk

Review #240: Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, Sam Cooke