Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ever since Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, grownups have noted with alarm the infiltration of radio by, of all things, teenagers. No sooner do the New Kids fade than their rapping bro Marky Mark moves in. Enfant terrible Prince touts 15-year-old Tevin Campbell; new jack Michael Bivins touts the even younger ABC. You'd almost think pop music was youth culture or something.

I say such whiners should tune in the local adult contemporary station and die, because there's more pleasure, energy, fun, and even wisdom in the hits of the above-named than in all the recorded works of Richard Marx and Michael Bolton combined. And when it comes to Kris Kross, two gimmicky 13-year-old Atlanta rappers masterminded by 19-year-old producer Jermaine Dupri, I'm tempted to mention genius.

Either that or dumb luck. Jump is the kind of single that can define a whole summer at the beach, a pop smash that could make Michael Bolton shake his booty, and nobody plans those. But for the refusal of Totally Krossed Out (Columbia) to flag or cute out, you have to thank Dupri's studio savvy and instinct for the hook--and also the rhythmic cool and boy-man timbres of Kris Smith and Kris Kelly. All are improved by their brushes with the adult danger and dissonance Lil Boys in Da Hood can't avoid, and all are sparked by the ebullient hopes that made us love rock and roll to begin with.

Right, they also wear their clothes funny. Me, I'm just listening.


Fast Cuts: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Music for the People (Interscope): give him this--he loves the life he sings (and talks). Del tha Funkee Homosapien: I Wish My Brother George Was Here (Elektra): bigger boy in da hood.

Playboy, May 1992


Apr. 1992 June 1992