Boogie Down Productions is KRS-One–autodidact, self-described “metaphysician,” and occasionally inspirational voice of moral and social reason in the checkered world of rap. Legend has it that he grew up alone on the streets of New York, teaching himself in libraries and finally finding a voice in hip hop. While at first flirting with the violent imagery of the music, he quickly evolved–prompted, perhaps, by the street-shooting death of his DJ partner, Scott LaRock–into a rather freakish but surprisingly effective preacher. His subjects are education, getting smart, education, how violence sucks, and education; it sounds like a recipe for boredom, but his energetic (if spare) beats, prolix enthusiasm, and hugely likable personality make up for it. Also, he’ll take chances, as on “Love’s Gonna Get ‘Cha,” a tense and linear drug-pusher’s tale in which, it turns out, the “love” of the title equals covetousness. You might not agree with everything he says. Me, I could give a fuck if Jesus was black or white, but he’s an enthusiastic purveyor of this sort of multicultural revisionist view of black contributions to history. Some of it’s reasonable, some of it less so, and some of it–why, it’s almost as wacky as some of the stuff I learned in school. Live rap shows, of course, are often sonic disasters: the show tonight is a rare chance to see a talent on KRS-One’s level in a relatively controlled environment. Local rappers Ten Tray and reggae band Gulli Banque open; KRS-One’s supposed to go on around 12:30 AM. Friday, China Club, 616 W. Fulton; 466-0400 or 466-0812.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Geprge DuBose.