KRS-One | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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As you might expect of a rapper who's spent a good chunk of the past decade speaking at colleges, KRS-One tends to lecture his audience. As you might also expect, the audience doesn't always appreciate that. After he chastised chart topper Nelly last year, the younger MC's response (as a guest on Freeway's "Roc da Mic") was "You're the first rapper to get a pension." Thing is, it sounded less like a personal attack than a general kiss-off from the hip-hop world to its elders. Unfortunately, neither of KRS-One's 2002 albums offers much to suggest his continued relevance. Spiritual Minded (Koch) is gospel-rap hybrid that does neither genre justice. The more recent The Mix Tape (Koch/In the Paint) is slightly better, but it's short on inspiration and, at 25 minutes, just plain short. The Nelly dis track, "Ova Here," which appears twice, is full of lame bluster ("You ain't real and you ain't universal / Your whole style sounds like an 'NSync commercial"), and there's something genuinely sad about hearing one of the greatest rappers of all time ask "Ain't it about time for some real MCs?" (read: "Please love me"). "Problemz" digs into the politics of promotions and airplay ("Radio gets a 20-record-a-week stream / But only three are seen / What happens to the other 17? / It's a problem, problem, problem in hip-hop today / We've gotta solve it"), but rather than tackling this serious issue KRS-One mostly takes the opportunity to complain some more about being shut out of the rap mainstream. Nonetheless, he remains hip-hop's greatest live performer, a ferocious onstage presence whose freestyling ability is unequalled. Sunday, February 9, 10 PM, Joe's, 940 W. Weed; 312-337-3486.

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