Episode 246: How High, Kris Kross?

On the TFT Podcast, we tackle Kris Kross’s chart-topping 1992 album “Totally Krossed Out.”

Ryan and Matt listen to and discuss Kris Kross’s chart-topping 1992 album, Totally Krossed Out. As Ryan says, “This is a good record.”


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Syllabus: Totaly Krossed Out

3 Comments on “Episode 246: How High, Kris Kross?”

  1. Benjamin #

    Another interesting angle is that for a brief moment in the early 90’s, it really did seem like Michael Bivins was going to take over everything, what with his previous founding of New Edition along with his stake in Boys II Men, BBD and Another Bad Creation. There is a way you can look at Bivins as a kind of Proto-Puffy in that way. The familiar mission statement that appeared as a chorus in multiple Bivins tracks of the era was: “Hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip, with a pop feel appeal to it”.

    I’ve never thought of this before listening to your podcast, but you really can make a case that (in a way) the proxy war that Jermaine Dupri and Michael Bivins waged with ABC vs. Kriss Kross really prefigured the East Coast/West Coast feud of a few years later. Hip-hop was ready to enter its Silver Age, and everyone was experimenting with different ways to sample for maximum commercial success. For example: Naughty By Nature used The Jackson 5 for a hit with OPP in 1991. “Jump” did the exact same thing the next year.

    What Dupri did with Kriss Kross was make a (frankly ridiculous) claim to greater authenticity over ABC based on literally nothing. It wasn’t the first rap feud or the last, but I’d say it was the first that had much more to do with producers than talent. (also perhaps the first involving exclusively children)

    “Those wack clowns wear their Starter gear inside out, whereas we wear it to the back”.

    Four years later, two of the most iconic and legendary rappers of all time waged a much more lethal contest of brinksmanship, albeit for more complicated reasons.

    Anyways, keep up the good work.


    • Ryan Sheely OTI Staff #

      Rap feud as proxy war is really interesting, and I really like this interpretation. I think you’re right that this is an interesting mid-point between older feuds (I think of the late 80s Bridge feud between Boogie Down Productions and the Juice Crew) and the East Coast-West Coast feud of the 90s.

      I think what made the latter feud take the next step beyond the Dupri/Bivins, is that it also had elements of a producer/executive producer proxy war, but one of the producers in this one is Suge Knight. Fellow Overthinker Pete Fenzel and I were recently discussing “Hit ‘Em Up” (as we are wont to do on any given Saturday evening), and agreed that Puffy must have shat his pants the first time heard that song. He started off wanting to get some publicity to sell some records, and he ended up getting death threats for himself and everyone he knew.


      • Stan Sempre #

        Puffy actually loved Hit ’em up and turned it up to max volume and put it on repeat the first time he heard it. You are onto some thing with the executive producer war, but the story of Biggie and Tupac is much more complicated than that—involving a multitude of underworld figures from both New York and Los Angeles. Puffy didn’t fear the street element because he had been raised in the life. His father, Melvin Combs, was a recognized street figure in Harlem who was known as a big time hustler, and a member of Nicki Barnes’ inner circle. With those type of affiliations you don’t just run from the streets when the heat turns up. If you listen to his adlibbing on the last three tracks of Biggie’s second album (Life After Death), you’ll understand. On “Long Kiss Goodnight”, “My Downfall”, and “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)” you will see his response to the beef with Suge Knight. Vlad TV has also done extensive interview coverage with individuals from both sides of the dispute for further insight. The Kris Kross vs ABC beef was purely a proxy war driven by producers because the artists wrote absolutely none of their own lyrics.


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