April 10, 2003, 7:04 pm
A shady ass Thursday to some, but for me it was the ultimate jump off.
It was the day KRS One and I would meet and greet.
sh*t. I didn’t plan for the episode, its just that I attended his lecture
“Hip-hop Declaration of Peace” at Northeastern University in Boston,
Mass and figured since he was in the building, what could I lose if I asked
for an interview? Nada!
Sweet and sour. Actually that’s what I dipped my six-piece chicken nuggets
in as I prepped for the ‘view. KRS and I were situated in the ethnically
diverse city of Cambridge, a bridge over from the small and gritty city of Boston,
yes THAT city, big city cats are finally getting hip to.
After hearing KRS breakdown the 9 concrete elements
of the Hip-Hop culture, including, but not limited to; emceeing, breakin’,
fashion trendin’, and graffin’. I wondered how his petty beef with
Nelly could actually be the focus of other medias? I mean this stout man linked
to locks and stuffed with wisdom, is a f*cking capo in the original rap game.
Even still I wondered after his breakdown of
Hip-Hop’s dynamic culture in the university’s auditorium, how funky
ass politicians could think Hip-Hop’s presence is only attributed to gangster
rap, cats tapping at hoes, and ho’s shouted by crowds at concerts.
Really, how could these corny conservatives think
thirty plus years of branding our culture worldwide could be simplified to patchy
Akademic denims hanging, big hat’s dripping, and ice the clarity of fresh
waters in international seas?
How could they do that, and how we could we let
them? I guess they never sat at the roundtable with the Teacher, KRS One.
Pay attention to the lesson.
KRS gave me a couple doses on how I could make
a significant contribution to my community. And I would be dead wrong to take
our hot connection to this culture out of context. My statements are based on
recorded facts and if you doubt that, I’ll push you the CD, like a pusher
pushes dope to your doorstep. Get high off that. You Suckerssss!
So here we are, or better yet, there we were
in BK. Oh, if all along you were picturing BK, aka Brooklyn, the moment was
Burger King, between Hi-Fi sub shop and the Phoenix Bar on Massachusetts Avenue.
Initially we were gonna chat in the Middle East nightclub, an underground setting,
where he was scheduled to perform, but the scrambling of his clan doing sound
check was too disturbing. “Check one, two, check.”
KRS agreed without debate or bodyguards that
the King was it. And really could the scene have been more fit for the King
of the educated Hip-Hop culture? Nope. Sure Burger King wasn’t as luxurious
as restaurants at the Ritz, but I didn’t care, nor did the peeping toms
by the fountain machine pressing for autographs. As a matter of fact, the setting
was rather comfy, considering a legendary rapper was lurking in the set.
AllHip-Hop.com: Do you feel the Hip-Hop culture
will ever have a significant presence in the classroom? Do you ever feel academia
will just say you know what, this is it? This is the direction of where our
students are going. And this is what we need to embrace honestly and not because
we are trying to be, so called linking in the system and acting like we really
KRS ONE: Yes, Yes, Yes, I honestly feel, matter
of fact, it’s…it’s mathematics that it will. Those who are in power
today will not be tomorrow. That is a fact.
AllHip-Hop.com: A fact, I agree.
KRS ONE: That is a fact. Really we have to be
prepared to take their place. Will Hip-Hop as a curriculum be taught in an academic
environment? I mean take it as far as junior high, high school, and college
or middle school. Can it be taught? Yeah? Will it be taught? Yeah. Because you
and I are growing up and we’re becoming the teachers. We are the teachers.
We are the faculty. We are the board. We are the board of education. Do you
know that in another five years, the President of the United States would have
had a Public Enemy tape? There’s going to be a President after Bush. And
that next four-year term, say eight years from now, that President is gonna
have grown up with KRS, PE, and Queen Latifah. If Hip-Hop stopped today…we
would still go down in world history.They’ll have a picture of you. Here’s
an average Hip-Hoppa. They’ve flourished for the last thirty years. It’s
AllHip-Hop.com: Since Hip-Hop is such an expressive
culture do you feel the academic environment stunts the culture’s growth?
Overall, do you think that even from lower education, as far as fourth or third
grade, are they trying there hardest to deter us from expressing ourselves creatively?
KRS ONE: That leans to another question…
Which means what is it to teach? What is the curriculum to teach? What is it
to teach Hip-Hop? I would say in answering your question. To teach Hip-Hop in
today’s academic environment transforms the academic environment of today.
It’s impossible to teach Hip-Hop in the standards of today’s educational
curriculum.The idea of ‘I tell you something, you memorize it, and tell it back
to me’ is not how you teach Hip-Hop. That whole concept would have to breakdown.
The testing system and the grading system all of that would have to be out the
window. In my opinion, Hip-Hop is not about learning it’s about unlearning.
It’s about not getting new information, but questioning the information
you already got. Who am I? Why am I? Where am I? Who are you? Why are you? When
are you? Is this table a table? What use is this to me? What is my self worth,
what do I mean? Like people don’t ask themselves like on a weekly or monthly
basis what do I mean? What do I mean?
On Music, On Nas
AllHip-Hop.com: Do you feel the Hip-Hop culture
is being stripped? I know its mainstream. But how do you think we can teach
our culture to get back? I know I had to go through a growth process. I know
Nas had to do it. Everyone criticizes Nas for conflicting and you know…
hypocritical statements or whichever, but I look at Nas as though he’s
growing, whereas, a lot of people stay stagnant. What is your take on that?
KRS ONE: (smiling) You just answered it. You
answered the question right there. It’s growth. That’s exactly what
it is. It’s not contradiction. It’s life. And we’re supposed
to go from A to B to C to D. D is not A. You answered it, growth; development.
AllHip-Hop.com: Rock and Roll music has been stripped.
It has been around forever. But Elvis made it popular visually. Now that we
are being stripped because of the visuals. How can we possibly get it back to
KRS ONE: By existing. The fact that you exist
we’ve already won. The fact that I exist we’ve already won. The fact
that audience came out (Northeastern University lecture) to hear and stay to
the very end proves that we already have victory. What we have to do is recognize
ourselves. That to me is the biggest challenge with the Hip-Hop community. We
don’t know that we are a community. We don’t know that we are distinct
group of people.
On Creative Writing
AllHip-Hop.com: Would you say that all lyrics,
I don’t care if its 50 Cent, Nas, Mobb Deep; if their lyrics set up a story
it should be considered a form of creative writing?
KRS ONE: Yes.
AllHip-Hop.com: Regardless… if it’s
KRS ONE: Yes. KRS
ONE: Yes, yes, yes, yes. All writing is good writing, all of it. We
need balance.The issue is the program director who gets, or music director,
or editor of a publication, or video programmer who gets a barrage of Hip-Hop
material, or should I say they get a barrage of rap music. Some is conscious,
some gangster, some comedy, some sex, some this that…they get all of it.
They pick out of a large variety of music to play, they pick the most thugged
out thing they can find and that’s what we hear all day on the radio. So
the issue is not really with Hip-Hop and its writers. We should write about
everything. But our children don’t need to hear certain thoughts at 9am
in the morning while they are trying to get ready to go to school, or at 9 at
night when you’re trying to wash them up to go bed. Hip-Hop should be more
family-orientated being that most Hip-Hoppas are family people. The nonsense
you see on television is a joke of course. The majority of people who say “yo!
I grew up in Hip-Hop, that’s my culture, that’s what I grew up in.”
We have children now, we’re married now, we have mortgages, car payments,
cell bills. We got things to do. We’re not standing on the corner like
the video depicts. So I say more of us have to speak up.