The Bridge is Over

Traffic Entertainment, under license from B-Boy Records, recently released a 3-CD reissue of Boogie Down Productions' first album "Criminal Minded." I'm enjoying rediscovering this record after so many years - it came out when I was in high school - and one of my favorite things about it has always been how KRS cops Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me", changes all the words and then rap-sings the song as he taunts the Brooklyn hip-hop scene.

When I first bought my own copy of "Criminal Minded" I was baffled to discover it contained only instrumental versions of the songs. One of my best friends had the record, and hers had all the lyrics. I even checked to make sure there wasn't something wrong with my turntable, studied the album cover for clues suggesting why my copy was different, but remained unenlightened. I very vaguely remember hearing at some point that because of some dispute between KRS-ONE and B-Boy Records, the album had been re-released, but without the vocals. So I shrugged it off and continued listening to the album on the cassette I made of my friend's copy. Not a DJ at the time, what use would I have had for an instrumental rap record?

A few years after high school, several apartments and roomates later, I discovered that my copy of "Criminal Minded" had suddenly developed vocal tracks! I was mystified! Was this some kind of metaphysical miracle, achieved by half a decade of standing, overlooked, between Blondie and the Boomtown Rats? Was I crazy? Or just retarded? Had my "Criminal Minded" had vocals on it all along, and I just wasn't listening closely enough?

It took me until recently to guess that the disappearance of my vinyl copy of A Tribe Called Quest's first album, "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Wisdom", and the spooky acquisition of vocals by my instrumental BDP record, were probably connected and most likely the work of a former roomate who also does a radio show. I was listening one day and was amused to hear him use the very instrumentals as his music bed. He must have switched his BDP record for mine. It seems plausible enough...maybe the instro copy was by then a collectible, and somehow the original was not?

I'll always wonder what really happened, but now, I can also have both versions of the album, plus a bonus disc of alternate mixes (including the raunchier, rawer, and much better version of "The P is Free") thanks to the music industry's growing re-release culture. I guess it's nice to know that sooner or later, every record we've ever loved, lost or sold will eventually come back to us in some kind of digital manifestation.

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