KRS-One Recalls How Battling On Scott La Rock’s Behalf Led To The Formation Of BDP

Boogie Down Productions is a Hip-Hop outfit that is revered for its combative nature. The collective launched by KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock would challenge Rap peers including MC Shan, Marley Marl, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Roxanne Shanté, and others throughout its late 1980s run. However, according to Blastmaster KRS-One, the group was galvanized in a live battle even before the attacks on wax.

Hip-Hop Evolution is an expansive documentary series about the development of the culture and the Rap music genre. Popular entertainers Shad and Russell Peters are driving forces behind the Canadian-made program, with the former hosting and the latter being a producer. The series’ first season consisted of four hour-long episodes and originally aired on HBO Canada in 2016, before being added to Netflix a couple of months after.

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The second season has been added to Netflix in the last month. The third episode (“Do The Knowledge”) focuses on the pivotal Latin Quarter nightclub, KRS-One and the B.D.P. crew, and the Native Tongues collective.

At 7:00 in this episode, KRS-One explains the basis on his forming Boogie Down Productions with the late Scott Sterling. “I was Hip-Hop from the time I was in my mother’s womb. I grew up in the Bronx. I was living next door to [DJ] Kool Herc, who is the recognized father of Hip-Hop. I would hear the basement parties. We had to just creep up the window and listen because we were too young to get in,” describes Kris Parker of his upbringing to Shad.

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“To survive in the hood, the average person on the street [always] had a rhyme [ready],” recalls Kris. “If you didn’t have something right then and there [when asked], your whole credibility in the hood was gone!” KRS continues, “I was going through hard times. I’m in the [Franklin Armory Men’s Shelter]—740 dudes. I want to be a rapper, but I’m bummy; I’m a shelter. In walks a social worker, Scott Sterling. So he starts with, ‘Why are you here?’ ‘Well, obviously I’m here ’cause I don’t have a place to live.’ [He says], ‘Well, what are you gonna do? What [are] your plans in life?’ So I said sarcastically, ‘I’m an MC.’ He was like, ‘MC? What’chu know about that? MC? Spit a rhyme right now!'”

Going back to his point about Hip-Hop and rapping in the mid-’80s, KRS-One had a rhyme cocked and loaded. As Kris remembers, his verse went as follows: “Every generation after every generation / The American nation / Is hit with starvation / The ex-ploitation / The quick sensation / Could only lead a mind to destructive creation…” The MC returns to his story, “He said, ‘Yo! What you doin’ in here? Yo, you got real talent, man!’ He said, ‘Yo, this is my card. My name is Scott La Rock. I DJ at this club in Manhattan. Why don’t you come down this Friday and just hang out and just watch me DJ?’ Friday comes, got in there, the place is [crazy]! Scott was cuttin’ up [Mantronix’] ‘Fresh Is The Word’ I was like, ‘I made it! That’s it, I’m good!'”

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However, the events did not end there. “Later that night, this group got on stage. They had some sort of beef with Scott. They was like, ‘Yo man, you lucky you ain’t got no MCs, ’cause we’d take them out too!'” KRS-One stepped up for his new friend. “I said, ‘Let’s get it on right here, right now, ’cause I do’s this! My bread is on the line. Y’all look like y’all ate today. Mmm-mmm, not happening! You had breakfast; I didn’t. The dude you’re battling, he slept on the 2-Train. And if he wins, he don’t have to sleep on the 2-Train no more. You’re over! You’re as good as done. It’s nothing that you can rhyme or say that’s gonna take away this dude’s hunger. It’s the hunger that’s writing my rhyme! [animal noise] It was less than five minutes; we destroyed these dudes.” Hip-Hop Evolution adds that DJ D-Nice quickly joined the fold and formed the legendary group, with its name honoring the “boogie down” Bronx.

The episode segment then moves into how Queens became the next Hip-Hop hot spot. With DJ Mr. Magic (aka John Rivas) becoming the gatekeeper for what was fresh, B.D.P. decided that they needed his co-sign. However, “Sir Juice” (Mr. Magic’s nickname) reportedly hated on the South Bronx squad, and this was the impetus for B.D.P. to record “South Bronx,” followed by the even more disrespectful “The Bridge Is Over.” These tracks elevated the posse to the top of the Hip-Hop scene.

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Shad recently released A Short Story About A War. The album features fellow Canadian Hip-Hop products KAYTRANADA and Eternia.

Additional Reporting by Bandini.