With our ongoing Class Of 88 features, we have been paying tribute to the immensely classic work that came out that year. So far weve gone in with Big Daddy Kane, Eric B., Chuck D., EPMD, MC Lyte, Marley Marl just to name a few. Its only right though. 1988 is probably the greatest year for Rap music bar none. And truth be told AllHipHop.com, was the only publication to take things back in order to frame this twentieth anniversary properly.
Now you cant walk anywhere without tripping on 1988 related content. Yes folks weve been swagger jacked. So with that said we are switching up the look. Rather than focusing on one single album, we take a look at the era in question. And who better to provide commentary than KRS-One. He reminisces on the height of crack rock, the lack of organization within Rap then, and analyzes the game now in true Blastmaster fashion.
“We were just getting used to the smell of crack; that was 88. 1985 the crack era hit its peak. 1986 and 1987 we start seeing the horrible effects. In ’88 it still wasnt wack to do crack. In ’88 you could still go to a club and smell a woolie [blunt] in the air and for those who arent in the know, thats crack with weed. You could smell that all in the air of some of the most famous clubs.
So ’88 to me starts right there in terms of the social structure. That was the height of the crack era. This was also the end of the Five Percent era too. This is also the end of the era of the Black man in the street walking around with a book. There used to be a time where men, really Blacks and Puerto Ricans, would walk around New York with books in their hand. Either The Koran, The Bible, something from Dr. [Malachi] York or Behold A Pale Horse. It was like your jewelry, thats what you were judged by.
This used to go on in our culture due to the influence of the Five Percent Nation. The intricate part to that is that this was the end of that era. ’88 is the end of the conscious Black man era; where we used to get in a cipher, not the rhyme cipher, but the original knowledge cipher that was instigated by the Five Percent, that came to an end. This was an era of man that we dont really see anymore.
The Black man stopped being a Black man in ’88. Look at the changing of the guards right there. ’88 rolls around and Black Panther Black man, Five Percent Black Man, Marcus Garvey Black man, Nation of Islam Black man, the Moors, that Black man; they all start dying out right around ’88; this buffoonery that we have today started to take prevalence. Huey P. [Newton] gets killed in 1989 and Minister Farrakhan started to tone it down.
I dont really want to dwell on that because that wasnt really my start; its my observation. ’88 was to me was also a trying period for Hip-Hop. [Now] when you say MC, I could only count a few MCs on my hand today. Let me also say this, there are dudes that were dope MCs in the 80s and aint sh*t today. [They] were dope back in the day and now claim that old school sh*t, respect me because Im old school.
Respect me because if it wasnt for me, you wouldnt be eating, man f*** that! Im old school too, and at the end of the day these motherf***ers just not practicing. Theyre sitting at home playing Nintendo. I dont know what their story is but at the end of the day I write a fresh rhyme every night before I go to bed. So when you see me on stage you could believe if any n****r want to step up I got some sh*t for your ass; day and night.
Now when I look and see these dudes saying they are the greatest of all times, I be like word? If you cant spit that sh*t raw on the corner of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue, you aint sh*t. This is what ’88 was all about. I dont see too many people doing that today. Its all about your ice now.
Mceeing is [now] based on how many diamonds you got. You spit one record and motherf***ers claiming king and sh*t. Like what are you the king of, Disneyland? New York isnt New York anymore. I will never say New York is dead, because there is some heat around here but at the end of the day, the sh*t we had going around in ’88, and you can quote me, we had the rest of the nation shook.
West Coast shook, South shook, North shook, overseas shook, and Bahamas shook. We used to walk into Atlanta f***ing deep. And look, Im not saying it in a way where Im dissing; Im saying this as a scholar. Im saying take a look at MCs claiming New York, claiming East Coast, claiming they the kings of sh*t in New York. Then compare our kingdom in ’88.
When we were spitting in ’88, nobody else was spitting! F*** that! And if you were spitting it was Too Short spitting the raw, N.W.A. was spitting the raw. King Tee was spitting the raw, thats all West Coast.
Thats my point, this is a democracy. You dont reign forever. Youre supposed to let someone to come after you and let them take that sh*t somewhere further. My problem is my peers. All of yall are b######, all of yall. We could have been so much smarter with Hip-Hop and we never did. If you think Hip-Hop is big now, we bullsh*tted our way to right now. When we were talking about organizing and getting sh*t together, we was bullsh*tting.”