KRS-One at Red Bull BC One 2009 Matthew McDermott/Red Bull Media House

With Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One helped introduce gangster rap with 1987’s landmark “Criminal Minded” album. But the Blastmaster’s real impact is as one of the foremost practitioners of conscious rap, spearheading the Stop The Violence Movement’s “Self Destruction” single. On the legendary rapper’s 47th birthday, we pick our top 10 KRS-One songs.

10. “MCs Act Like They Don’t Know"

Over DJ Premier’s piano-accented beat, the Blastmaster traces the evolution of his career, explains how to represent hip-hop culture and details his microphone supremacy.

9. “I’m Still #1"

This 1988 song has been redone, reworked and reinterpreted by Cypress Hill, among others, speaking to its potency.

8. “South Bronx"

In one of his disses of MC Shan, KRS-One gives hip-hop’s birthplace its theme song.

7. “Jack Of Spades”

The theme music for Keenen Ivory Wayans’ character in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” was befitting of a superhero.

6. “Step Into A World (Rapture’s Delight)”

More than a decade into his career, people were questioning whether or not KRS-One could make another hit. This smash single and its Diddy-assisted remix showed he could.

5. “Sound Of Da Police”

This high-energy social exposé showed how police tactics can be traced to horrific habits entrenched during slavery.

4. “Why Is That?”

A masterful song where Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone goes through the Bible and drops historical lessons.

3. “Love’s Gonna Get Cha (Material Love)”

This sobering look at the impact of chasing material bliss is as relevant in 2012 as when BDP dropped it in 1990.

2. “The Bridge Is Over”

This early Boogie Down Productions hit is one of the most sampled songs in rap history.

1. “My Philosophy”

After the death of mentor and BDP partner Scott LaRock, KRS-One showed with this spectacular song that he would be able to blend social commentary, braggadocio and storytelling with unrivaled aplomb.

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter @SorenBaker and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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