Solo Albums: n/a
Group Albums: Criminal Minded (1987), By All Means Necessary (1988), Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop (1989), Edutainment (1990)
Biggest Hits: "South Bronx" (1987), "The Bridge Is Over" (1987), "Criminal Minded" (1987), "My Philosophy" (1988), "Exhibit A" (1990)
The first five years of KRS-One's career were a study in contrasts. On one hand, he appeared on the cover of his first two albums holding guns (a bandolier and pistol on 1987's Criminal Minded, an uzi on 1988's By All Means Necessary); on the other, he founded the Stop the Violence movement, and released Edutainment, an album that signalled his (eventually sad and annoying) turn toward becoming the pedantic Teacha that hip-hop never really wanted.
Despite the hectoring, "Get off my lawn" b-boy stance he adopted later in his career, KRS-One had a nearly flawless run early in his career (shit, maybe he had a right to preach to us about the laws of hip-hop). Criminal Minded is a certified classic, both a benchmark for gangster rap and a touchstone for lyrical purists (see the "When I first heard Criminal Minded..." intro to De La Soul's Stakes Is High).
BDP's second album (recorded after the murder of Scott La Rock) featured the classic "My Philosophy". In his first half-decade in the game, Kris Parker offered the full gamut of what makes hip-hop beautiful (and, at times, awful): a hard world depicted in cold-eyed poetry; swagger on top of swagger on top of swagger; the sense that this art form could truly change people's lives (who better to talk about that than a former homeless MC). That KRS-One later became a caricature does nothing to diminish his initial run. Dude embodied hip-hop when he was young. Respect the teacher. — Jack Erwin