March 2nd – DJ Scott La Rock of Boogie Down Productions was born Scott Monroe Sterling in Queens, New York, on this day in 1962.
After his parents’ divorce when he was 4 years old, La Rock moved with his mother to the Morrisania and then later Morris Heights district of The Bronx.
La Rock excelled in academics and basketball at Our Savior Lutheran High School and then later attended Vermont’s Castleton State College where, during his spare time from his studies, he began honing his skills as a DJ.
After graduating from Castleton, La Rock landed a job as a social worker at The Franklin Armory Men’s Shelter in The Bronx, where he met Lawrence Parker, an MC and graffiti writer that lived in the shelter, who used the moniker KRS-One, an acronym for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.
At night, La Rock would DJ at various night clubs throughout New York City. By day, La Rock would spend hours discussing hip-hop with Parker.
The two men shared a common love for hip-hop and decided to form a crew called Scott La Rock And The Celebrity Three that was short lived.
They eventually released a record on Sleeping Bag Records produced by David Kennett and Kenny Beck called “Success Is The Word”. They were then known as 12:41.
After the unsatisfactory collaboration, the two then hooked up with DJ and MC D-Nice and formed Boogie Down Productions.
Boogie Down Productions released their debut album in 1987 called “Criminal Minded” on B-Boy Records which changed the face of hip-hop. “Criminal Minded” contained the classic title track as well as the hit singles “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over”, sparking the friendly “Bridge Wars” with The Juice Crew of the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens, New York.
“Criminal Minded” brought reggae’s influence on hip-hop music back full circle with KRS-One often “chatting” his lyrics “dancehall” style, reminiscent of reggae greats Yellowman and Super Cat.
The album’s raw, gritty and rough sound coupled with its lyrics of urban street crime is often credited with being the first “gangsta rap” album.
After the release of “Criminal Minded”, the group’s relationship with B-Boy began to sour with BDP shopping around for a new label. The group was introduced to executives at Warner Bros. Records by rap legend Ice-T, when tragedy struck.
On August 27th, 1987 La Rock was shot and killed by assailants he had been trying to defuse a conflict with, involving BDP’s D-Nice. Two men were arrested for the murder but were later acquitted in court.
La Rock’s murder heavily affected KRS-One who started the “Stop The Violence Movement” in La Rock’s memory as a peace cause.
The “Stop The Violence Movement” released the posse hit single “Self-Destruction” on Jive Records. “Self Destruction” featured appearances by KRS himself, the late great Heavy D, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Stetsasonic, Just-Ice and Public Enemy.
KRS-One would go on to release several albums with a new BDP line-up as well as a solo artist and several collaborative albums and would become known as the greatest MC ever by many.
Scott La Rock would be hip-hop’s first martyr as he gave his life in the quest for peace and brotherhood in the name of hip-hop culture.