KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions’ “Illegal Business” makes for the most political stripper scene ever
The hellish, six-minute tracking shot that ended Sunday night’s “True Detective” is the sequence everyone is talking about, but a quick scene in a strip club may have been even better.
As a dancer peels off an American-flag bikini, the DJ blares KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions’ “Illegal Business,” a blunt tribute to America’s underground economies. Capitalism runs amok onstage as the dancer strips and Woody Harrelson‘s broken detective, Marty Hart, barely notices. You can feel the American dream dying at thriving in the same instant.
Hart looks down his nose at the prostitution and drug-dealing that orbit his investigation, even as he comforts himself with booze. As long as it’s legal, it’s okay, even when it involves the most cynical exploitation.
As KRS raps, “Illegal business controls America.” The song asks where the regulation should start and end: With drugs? Alcohol? Tobacco? Sugar?
That strip club DJ has great taste. Though the song sounds fresh today, it’s from 1988 — so it would have been a hip-hop cult classic by the time of the scene, set in 1995.
Here’s the song: