Boogie Down Productions’ Criminal Minded vs. Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show. Which Is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
Less than one month apart in 1987, Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy made game-changing introductions—especially for two of Hip-Hop’s most impactful MCs. Read about these hallmark albums, and don’t leave without deciding which is superior—with your vote (click one then click vote).
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Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions
Boogie Down Productions was a wrecking ball to the perceived confines of what Hip-Hop could be. KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock masterfully (and unpretentiously) combined book smarts with street smarts. “Poetry” was literally and symbolically book-ended with “Criminal Minded,” as a former homeless teen had risen to “teacha” status alongside his real-life mentor. In New York City, B.D.P. was rushing stages with a confidence and a commanding live show. That translated to wax brilliantly, as “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” were not only defending Hip-Hop’s history in real-time, but laying out the offensive strategy for the its biggest musical clash to date. As Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G Rap were showing the culture’s artistic fertility in other boroughs, Criminal Minded reminded all that the Bronx was where it started.
Criminal Minded, with its weapon-themed cover, packed a new brand of jacketed Rap ammunition. This LP blended violence (“9MM Goes Bang”), sex (“Remix For The P Is Free”), and straightforward songs about Rap (“Dope Beat”), all with heavy substance intertwined. In the early 1990s, debut albums by Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Snoop Doggy Dogg had more in common with B.D.P.’s debut than nearly any other 1980s Rap album. Although KRS-One would shun promoting combat in music (Scott La Rock was murdered just after Criminal Minded was released), he balanced virtue and vice as effectively as any MC since. That raw energy and potent message was supported with thumping boom-bap beats, overseen by Ultramagnetic MC’s Ced Gee. The album sampled hits by AC/DC and James Brown, as KRS’s lyrics cleverly tapped into The Beatles and Billy Joel. Criminal Minded presented an audiophile’s approach to music-making. Rather than chase the dance-floor, this album brought the energy of the streets into the clubs, with an attitude that oozed Hip-Hop bravado and style.
Album Number: 1
Released: March 3, 1987
Label: B-Boy Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): N/A
Song Guests: D-Nice
Song Producers: (self), Ced Gee, Partner Lee Smith
Yo! Bum Rush The Show by Public Enemy
On Public Enemy’s debut LP, the group was many things. Yo! Bum Rush The Show lived up to its name as a blitzkrieg of energy, ideas, and style unheard previously in the Rap landscape. Album opener “You’re Gonna Get Yours” was a literal audio burn-out, disguised as a mere song about an Oldsmobile. Instead, Chuck D’s booming voice was signaling an earthquake of Rap substance from his Long Island, New York posse. The album dealt with thought along with flare. In addition to rapping about cars, women, and supreme Rap status, P.E. took on race and social matters in “Rightstarter” and “Mizui Weighs A Ton.” However, rather than come off as simply preachy, Carlton Ridenhour rallied troops like an old soul (and voice) in a young man’s body. Public Enemy was a presence, an attitude, and a fearlessness that transcended music. Although “Fight The Power” and “Bring The Noise” were not yet recorded, Yo! Bum Rush The Show signaled the change to come—without a pause.
With heavier issues at hand in the later 1980s, Yo! Bum Rush stands as P.E.’s most Hip-Hop-centric LP. “Public Enemy No.1” presented a polished routine that MC Chucky D cultivated years earlier into an unleashed microphone massacre. Flavor Flav played the perfect fast-talking fight promoter-like hype-man. Terminator X was a captivating DJ presence, as Johnny Juice’s on-record rhythm scratches were laser precise. Moreover, this is the one album where The Bomb Squad shared the studio with Rick Rubin. It showcased a group that channeled the Rock & Roll energy quite differently than Run-D.M.C. (“Sophisticated Bitch”). Meanwhile, the vast layers of music at play in P.E.’s debut introduced a production style that delivered Rap music out of boom-bap and into the sampling salad days that followed. “Miuzi…” shifts from Melvin Bliss to Aretha Franklin in a fashion that is not only visionary, but perfectly aligned with Chuck’s ability to rhyme about sports, Black Power, and wack DJs in the same verses. In words, in sound, in attitude, Public Enemy was a gestalt of cool and culture. Yo! Bum Rush The Show was a “megablast” introduction, that had all of Hip-Hop begging for more.
Album Number: 1
Released: February 10, 1987
Label: Def Jam/Columbia Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #125 (certified gold, October 1994)
Song Guests: Vernon Reid, Johnny Juice, Bill Stephney, Stephen Linsley
Song Producers: (self), Rick Rubin, The Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler), Bill Stephney
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.