KRS-One was born Lawrence Kris Parker in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in the South Bronx. Originally a graffiti artist, he founded the seminal Rap group Boogie Down Productions (BDP) in 1986 with disc jockey Scott LaRock (original name, Scott Sterling). Their first album, Criminal Minded (1987), combined LaRock's harsh, spare, reggae-influenced beats with KRS-One's long-winded rhyme style on underground classics such as “9mm Goes Bang” and “South Bronx.” The album's gritty portrait of life on the streets (as well as the firearms that adorned its cover) influenced the gangsta rap movement that began in earnest two years later.
LaRock was fatally shot while attempting to mediate a dispute soon after Criminal Minded was released, but KRS-One continued to record as BDP, releasing a second album, By All Means Necessary, in 1988. The album retained some of the thuggish imagery of Criminal Minded ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.