Classic Music: Antlife's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time #7 (Boogie Down Productions "Criminal Minded") (1987)


This album, is one that we have to go pretty far back for, to get into how it’s been so influential to me. Before I really knew what Hip Hop was, I knew what struck me as “cool”. I knew all about Rock and R&B because that was what I was initially raised on. In the 80’s, people still thought that Hip Hop was some trend. They didn’t respect the culture for what it was, and that may have played some role in how limited my access was to it. My childhood consisted of me shuttling back and forth between Manhattan and the South Bronx in the 80’s. And I will never forget that the first time I heard “South Bronx” by BDP, I was actually in the South Bronx, in Mitchel Projects, hanging with the other kids I was pretty much with everyday there. I was so oblivious and young, an actual kid, I thought that someone from over there had made the record and passed out tapes to people to play around the way! The only rappers I knew at the time were Run DMC, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and probably Curtis Blow or something. Hip Hop was something I had to discover on my own, and hearing these records being blasted from cars, while my friends and I ran up and down the street, was how I came to know who KRS-One and BDP were.

Hip Hop became my life years later when I was like 13 or so, but those early years really got me hooked on what would become a lifelong love of mine. Criminal Minded is an album that never got old to me. It takes me back to a time when emceeing was an art. When you had to have skills and a talent that just couldn’t be denied. KRS embodies what Hip Hop should be and sound like to me. He lives the culture, and paved a pathway that my friends and I would follow very closely, even down to being heavily involved in graf. He brought attention to the borough that not only created the art-form, but also went overlooked for so long, while having some of the most talented emcees of all-time living and creating there. Every track on this album is a classic to me. The production was bare, simply even, but knocked harder than some of the heavy metal records of that era. BDP didn’t compromise or take any shorts with this debut, and they killed careers of lesser emcees in the process. 

To sit and list which songs are favorites would be a serious waste of time, because I listen to the whole album as a complete body of work. It’s sad that Scott La Rock wasn’t able to live long enough to see the impact that this album and his work had on my generation and those that followed. But I think he’d be proud to see how much of an icon and great KRS has become over the years. I think anyone who was able to feel the impact of this album back then, would tell you that this was probably one of the first albums that made them fall in love with Hip Hop. It was definitely one of mine..



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