As I work through a massive backlog of press material, here’s another one to watch out for. KRS-One and Buckshot’s collabo Survival Skills drops September 15 on Duck Down Records. It’s packed with guests, from Mary J. Blige and Melanie Fiona to Talib Kweli and Slug from Atmosphere. And, of couse, lots of Duck Down members show up, including Smif-N-Wessun and new signee Geologic from Blue Scholars. Production comes from Black Milk, Illmind, Marco Polo, Khrysis, Nottz and 9th Wonder.
The first single, “Robot,” was produced by Havoc and has percolated around the Internet for a minute. Here’s some press info:
On the surface the album is a testament to the resiliency of two lyrical titans, but at its root Survival Skills is a blueprint for life. For instance on the infectious head-nodder “Robot,” which was released 6 weeks prior to Jay Z’s “The Death Of Auto Tune” track, and already available World Wide at Digital Retail Shops, such as iTunes, the duo speak-out against the recent overuse of the Auto-Tune vocal effect in urban music, but under the surface the message is much deeper. “I don’t want people to get the averaged clichéd version and thinking that we’re dissing people,’” Buckshot clarifies. “What we’re calling out here is the biters, the people that feel like because this guy sold X amount of records doing this, that I’m going to turn around and do it as well,” KRS says of the array of artists who have followed in the creative footsteps of Roger Troutman, Afrikka Bambatta, Teddy Riley and T-Pain. Despite its heavy message, sonically the track, produced by Mobb Deep’s Havoc, is as inviting as anything on the radio today. The video for “ROBOT,” directed by Todd Angkaswan, has been added into rotation at MTV & BET. The track has also been included in the sound track for Activision’s upcoming Tony Hawk skate game in stores this Fall.
Coincidently, ROBOT is not the first example of where Jay Z has released similar material and concepts from KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT. In 2003, Buckshot’s group Black Moon recorded a song called “Stay Real,” which was, again, released 6 weeks prior to Jay Z’s “Public Service Announcement” track, that ironically contained the same sample as Black Moon’s “Stay Real.”
A couple years prior to this Jay Z released “THE BLUEPRINT,” which was the same title used by KRS-ONE in his classic album, Boogie Down Productions “Ghetto Music: The BLUEPRINT of Hip Hop.” …
For all of their individual accomplishments, KRS-ONE and Buckshot remain fans of each other’s work; complementing each other’s strengthens. “That’s still KRS-One at the end of the day. I didn’t know how to rhyme back when I first started listening to Kris,” says Buck alluding to his partner’s dominant history. In turn, KRS gives all praises to the Black Moon front man. “I am the humble teacher on the track, Buckshot is clearly the man,” he says.
Still gritty tracks like “Clean Up,” featuring Rock of Heltah Skeltah and the politically minded “Running Away” featuring Immortal Technique, make Survival Skills a Hip-Hop fan’s dream, catering to those that love lyrics and the boom-bap. Equally as rich is the album’s Black Milk-produced track, “The Way I Live” featuring the Queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige. Together they create a triumphant anthem for all those on the grind trying to conquer their dreams. The song’s summery feel and soothing melodies make it an instant hit.
Throughout, both veterans sound as hungry and invigorated as any of their rap counterparts. “Projects like these are projects that motivate me,” KRS says. “The idea to work with another MC that has his own persona and style and do a real collaboration in the studio, that’s motivation. I already got 16 albums of my own,” he adds.
What KRS-One and Buckshot have created is an album that is socially responsible, lyrically sharp and sonically banging. Buckshot sums it up best, “Hip-Hop was started as an option to not killing each other. We were in the ghettos and we were real fucked up. We created Hip-Hop so we didn’t have to do that anymore.”
“The album is called Survival Skills, because that is what it takes.”
Here’s the track listing:
- 1. “Survival Skills” (feat. DJ Revolution)
- 2. “Robot”
- 3. “The Way I Live” (feat. Mary J. Blige)
- 4. “Clean Up Crew” (feat. Rock of Heltah Skeltah)
- 5. “Oh Really” (feat. Talib Kweli & Geologic of Blue Scholars)
- 6. “We Made It” (feat. Slug of Atmosphere)
- 7. “Runnin Away” (feat. Immortal Technique)
- 8. “Think Of All The Things” (feat. K’naan)
- 9. “Connection” (feat. Smif-N-Wessun)
- 10. “Hear No Evil”
- 11. “One Shot” (feat. Pharoahe Monch)
- 12. “Murder 1” (feat. Bounty Killer)
- 13. “Amazin'” (feat. Sean Price & Loudmouf Choir)
- 14. “Past, Present, Future” (feat. Melanie Fiona & Naledge of Kidz In The Hall)