In the world of education, controversy rages: Should minority history be as strongly stressed as white America’s? KRS-One — the lead rapper of Boogie Down Productions and author of a New York Times Op-Ed piece on racism and teaching — says it should be, and jumps right in, continuing a polemic he began in the group’s previous album (Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip-Hop released in 1989). This time, though, he has even more information to impart: Edutainment may well be the most intellectual pop album ever made, one bursting with names, dates, and ideas.
The remains of the earliest ancestors of homo sapiens were found in Africa, he raps over a dense, dark, propulsive beat in his opening cut, ”Blackman in Effect”; thus it’s at least possible that all humanity might be of African descent. Some of his assertions will be controversial. Were the Egyptians really black Africans? Did the Greeks really treat philosophers as criminals between 640 and 322 B.C. (thus proving, or so KRS-One thinks, that the Egyptians valued philosophy more)? While noting the persecution of Socrates (470-399 B.C.), standard histories of Greece say otherwise.
But these are details, exaggerations in an important cause; KRS-One, who takes great care to note he’s for the uplift of all people, might say that white histories of blacks are much more drastically inaccurate. And what’s most remarkable, given the music’s content, is how lively it is. The songs never seem purely didactic, and never get dull. You can dance to them; you can slip the album into your car’s tape player and rock down the highway.
There’s just one thing: Here and there on the album KRS-One and his crew call gay men ”faggots.” If they’re really for all humanity, why leave out another oppressed minority? B+