Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You’ve Been Blinded

Doing my occasional rounds of browsing the web and e-window shopping, I came across an item which struck a chord with me. Apparently a while back, B-Boy Records deemed it wise to re-release Boogie Down Production’s landmark album Criminal Minded in the format of a USB flash drive. Selling for about twenty bucks, the flash drive features a whopping 1 GB of space, and includes the album, artwork, liner notes, and a selection of 12” cuts, rarities, remixes and unreleased tracks. Now I’ve got some issues with this whole scenario, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, strictly from a geek’s perspective, let’s start off by saying that trading a Jackson bill for 1 GB of storage is akin to weak-arm robbery. Simply not worth it. To top it all off, the flash drive looks like a gun:

Why is this so offensive and just plain wrong? Well, let’s think back for a moment. KRS-One’s partner, Scott La Rock, was gunned down in 1987 at the age of just 25 years old. The tragic loss came at a time when KRS and Scott – who had just released Criminal Minded – were at their apex, laying their claim to fame in the realm of hip hop. Though KRS would continue to record under the handle of Boogie Down Productions, La Rock’s passing dealt a severe blow to the excellent dynamic formed by the duo. The incident sparked the establishment of the Stop the Violence Movement, formed by KRS-One in 1988 as a direct response to violence. Flash forward nearly twenty years after Scott La Rock’s death and KRS-One’s son, Randy Hubbard Parker, committed suicide due to depression. The cause of death? A gunshot wound to the head.

Violence and gun laws are no laughing matter. Hip hop fans should know this quite well, given the countless emcees whose mics were robbed by a bullet. But if there’s anyone who understands the agony of gun violence, it’s KRS-One. Granted, on more than one occasion KRS-One was seen on his album covers toting a handgun. But KRS-One is reputable – and always has been – for his strong stances, promoting education and a mind-over-muscle mentality.

And now, B-Boy Records, a label which infamously dicked Kris and Scott out of royalties, has come back to drop a product which is scornfully insulting to everything KRS-One and the legacy of Boogie Down Productions stands for. We always talk about how greedy and frivolous the RIAA-backed major labels are, but the indies such as B-Boy Records are notably just as sheisty. I haven’t done enough research – nor do I plan on doing so – on when this 1 GB mockery was crafted and released. Odds are my two cents on this item are probably outdated. All I know is that as soon as I saw it, as I said before, it struck a chord with me. With all that being said, I guess this puts a whole new spin on a line by KRS-One from Criminal Minded’s title track: “Is it real or is it Memorex?” I know one thing’s for certain: I’m quite happy with my mini-army of Western Digital Passport Elites and my super-portable SanDisk Cruzer Micro. “I’ll see you folks around the way…”