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RECORD RACK

Parker Sings of Peace : BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS "Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop." Jive/RCA *** 1/2

July 30, 1989|DUFF MARLOWE and Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five stars (a classic).

Since the release of BDP's first album in 1987, Chris Parker, the self-described "Blastmaster" KRS-One, has become something of an underground superstar among urban youth. The hit singles "I'm Still Number One" and "My Philosophy" reached broader audiences last year, establishing Parker as a kind of hip-hop guru for the entire rap scene. But before you cringe at the thought of a rapper casting his influence on impressionable kids, just take a look at some of the song titles on the third and perhaps best BDP album yet.

"You Must Learn," "World Peace" and the current single "Why Is That?" are downright educational. Granted, Parker may have his own slant on things, but the real-life lessons that are expressed in his lyrics often make much better food for thought than the average pop song.

Though much of what he says is non-specific and vague, his lack of didacticism helps him get his points across. The sentiments of "World Peace" should help dispel rap's image as an angry and violent form: "A lot of people are under the assumption that peace is soft or somethin' / We must begin to reprogram our thoughts from how we were taught."

While many new rhymers have come to lean heavily on sampled melodies lifted from soul and R&B classics, KRS-One dispenses with all the frills as he re-creates the sparse beat-box-and-vocals "ghetto music" sound of his earlier days in the New York hip-hop milieu. And on "Hip Hop Rules" and "Jah Rulez," the Blastmaster makes a deft switch to the Jamaican-bred ragamuffin rap style.

Although Parker has recorded and produced three of his own albums as well as having produced other artists (including famed reggae rhythm team Sly & Robbie), this newest BDP offering still sounds as if it came out of a South Bronx basement. And rap purists couldn't be happier.

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