On Survival Skills, BDP mastermind KRS-One and Boot Camp Clik general Buckshot launch a tag-team mission, fusing their respective Boogie Down and Brooklyn styles into one sound.
The duo’s chemistry is apparent on the anti–Auto-Tune single “Robot,” as Buck’s laid-back delivery (“The best to do it was Roger Troutman/Nah, shorty, T-Pain didn’t come out then”) offsets KRS’s booming timbre over a straightforward beat from Mobb Deep’s Havoc. But fixing rap isn’t their only aim. The once apolitical BDI Thug follows The Teacher into conscious terrain on the Immortal Technique–-guested “Runnin Away” and “Think of All the Things,” a PSA for deadbeat dads. Further diversity is demonstrated on “The Way I Live,” a radio-friendly hookup with Mary J. Blige, and “Clean Up Crew,” which finds Kris, Buck and Heltah Skeltah’s Rock likening themselves to a laundry list of sanitary solutions, with amusing results. Sadly, “One Shot,” with its awkward Pharoahe Monch hook, misses its mark entirely, and the motivational “We Made It” comes off a little too preachy.
KRS and Buck might have first left Timberland-shaped footprints on hip-hop in the ’80s and early ’90s, respectively, but, on their first collaborative effort, they prove that not much has changed, and it truly is survival of the fittest. —JESSE SERWER