KRS-One likes to pick fights. Anyone who remembers anything about the Bridge Wars -- the feud between KRS-One's Boogie Down Productions and DJ Marley Marl's Juice Crew featuring MC Shan that spawned a number of classic hip-hop songs in the early Eighties -- knows KRS started it. The Juice Crew's "The Bridge" was simply singing the praises of the Queensbridge neighborhood, not taking bragging rights from the South Bronx as the birthplace of hip-hop. But now, sans Shan, KRS and Marley Marl have decided to put the old rivalry aside and make a combo album. Unfortunately, for a good portion of Hip-Hop Lives, KRS spends too much time resting on his laurels and engendering nostalgia on songs like "I Was There" and "All Skool." Highlighting the good components of hip-hop is admirable, but his earlier records did that too, and overall the rhymes were fresher.
One track that has the same edge as KRS's early BDP stuff is "Kill a Rapper," which questions why authorities never find the killer whenever a rapper -- Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Jam Master Jay, and the newest one, Stack Bundles -- gets murdered. "You wanna get away with murder?/Kill a rapper," goes the chorus. KRS is as sharp as ever when he says, "It seems like whenever a rapper dies, it don't matter/He simply becomes a poster, something to run after/A reason for these kids to pull their guns faster/Trying to emulate and be like dead rappers."
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In "Rising to the Top" he points out that he and Marley Marl "could have been gun-strappin', but they wasn't," because they were on some "real" hip-hop, which isn't about violence. Well, maybe the young bucks can still learn a few things from "The Teacha" and Marly Marl after all.