When KRS-One joined forces with Marley Marl in 2007 for Hip Hop Lives, it must have struck a chord for The Blastmaster. Since then he released Survival Skills with Buckshot, and an EP with Just-Ice and now Meta-Historical with True Master. All three of these albums are arguably KRS-One’s most focused efforts since Sneak Attack. True Master and KRS-One sees Boogie Down Productions and Wu-Tang Clan joining forces for the first time. It’s by no means a classic combination, but they seem to have a chemistry that works for both artists.
KRS with True Master is the most natural collaboration that Blastmaster has had in recent memory. While Survival Skills was ultimately a successful album, Buckshot never brought out the KRS-One that True Master is able to channel. The production never overwhelms, but it is always consistent. It seems to complement the South Bronx legend perfectly. Even the preachy “Palm & Fist,” KRS-One lyrically captivates over solid board-work. This match hasn’t been seen in recent memory. KRS is able to educate without the listener wanting to hit the skip button. The track is the highlight of the project from a lyrical and production tip.
On “Murder Ya,” KRS-One breaks out his vaunted Reggae-meets-Rap flow. The beat is rather repetitive, but Kris attacks the beat in a manner unseen in years. It’s clear that The Blastmaster is still hungry and this track shows that he can still spit with the best of them. “Unified Field” hears KRS going off on molecular structures at the beginning of the track. It is doper than it sounds, but has little replay value. “Gimme Da 90’s” has a sentimental value, when you hear names like Channel Live and Das Efx, but the hook fails the presentation. Throughout the project unnerving hooks seem to plague perfectly capable tracks. It’s a criticism that has seemed to follow KRS lately, and one that Meta-Historical can’t seem to avoid.
Breaking the trend, “Old School Hip Hop” has a catchy hook, and KRS murders the beat. While “1-2, Here’s What We Gone do” sees a RZA collaboration go to waste with questionable verse from The Abbott. Production-wise, it is one of the better True Master efforts. The Title track here’s KRS spitting knowledge and one hopes that when he spits, “Let’s give the future something it can respect” that Hip Hop follows the advice. “Street Rhymer” hears True Master flipping a vocal sample which works, while KRS and Cappadonna drop solid verses.
Like his books, KRS promotes his philosophy throughout the project. There are a handful of skits where he can be heard discussing everything from the bible to mythology all the way to the origins of Hip Hop a few thousand years ago. It is the comprehensive philosophy that keeps him relevant even if it does also bring along a lot of naysayers. It also seems to keep KRS’s content more focused. On previous albums in the 2000s, his fusion of random knowledge with other content often made the end result appear scatterbrained. Meta-Historical has a focus that allows KRS the emcee to shine.
There is no denying that KRS-One is one of the most important and talented emcees to bless the mic. Up until Sneak Attack every album he released was brilliant. Since the 1999 solo independent debut, he has wandered between sub-par, disappointing and rumor filled studio sessions. On Meta-Historical, KRS is back and hungrier than ever. Not only does he demonstrate the ability to rhyme at level not seen since I Got Next, he does so over some of the better production he’s seen in recent memory.