KRS-One & Buckshot: Survival of the Fittest

“The truth is Hip-Hop, and with Hip-Hop the bigger you get or if you really want get big, really, you got to get small.”

– KRS-One

Legends are made not born. It takes a lot of hard work dedication and sacrifice to be able to put yourself in the position to be regarded as one of the top in your field. KRS-One and Buckshot are two living legends in hip hop who have put in more than far share of work in their respective careers. If you take a look at the accolades that they have been credited with and it’s plain to see why they are each considered to be two living hip hop legends in their own respective ways. And, just like in every other field of work when you put in the time and effort to take yourself to the upper tier of your profession you get the perks that come with that and there’s no bigger perk in hip hop than being able to freely speak your mind. With their new album fittingly titled, Survival Skills, the duo do just that. They speak on a variety of topics from auto tune to the current economic situation to everything in between and they hold nothing back.

AllHipHop.com: So let’s talk about the new project, Survival Skills.

KRS-One: Survival Skills, the album speaks for itself. The title is what it is. You know we feel that with 11 million people out of work in the United States that the music, inner city music, urban music, which is what rap is; urban music should address urban issues.

AllHipHop.com: So what are some of the urban issues that you’re referring to?

KRS-One: The streets ain’t all about drug sales and guns going on we know this, but, for some reason we can’t rap about nothing else but these bitches, these hoes, and these guns. So the idea here on Survival Skills is to at least first let’s deal with what the real hood is dealing with which is poverty, job loss, families breaking up you know, and our album deals with that straight up. So first up at the top, Survival Skills the album speaks for itself. Survival Skills, that’s what we all on right now. Red and Meth are on that right now, Slaughterhouse is on that right now, guys like John Legend putting out people like Estelle are on that right now. Everybody from R&B to rock to jazz to reggae to rap to gospel, everybody’s hustling. Even Mary Mary put out The God In Me, it’s the God in me, and they’re on day time radio hustling they know that even they sound that ain’t even their music and they’re dissing gospel for even putting that out, but they’re hustling. So at the end of the day Survival Skills is a direct I would say breath of fresh air, glass of water, something refreshing that gets you away from that constant nonsense you hear everyday on the radio, television and so on. And Buckshot and KRS are hitting you with what the real streets are thinking, what real fathers are thinking and real mothers and real families are thinking.

Buckshot: That pretty much summed it up with that statement without going around and you know it’s definitely you know what he said. We are speaking for all those people.

AllHipHop.com: When you guys first got together for the project was that the focus or did it just evolve itself into that type of feeling so to speak?

KRS-One: I think it evolved.

Buckshot: I would say organically it evolved. That’s the best way that any project comes off. Any project comes off best in that form when it’s organic. And that’s the one thing about this project right here it gets very organic, and it ain’t like we went into the studio to fulfill certain peoples fantasies. Everybody’s not going to be satisfied because of the way we did, and the way we did it was real. Everybody that we worked with and everything; every song title, every concept, everything was organic. Intricate titles and intricate concepts on the album at the same time, those concepts when you listen to the songs you go back and start listening to the lyrics and you start to reflect on what it takes to make people even react to the point that you get them to listen which is skills and what it takes to survive. So eventually the album morphed itself into that; just being able to have music that naturally sounds good without persuading anybody or anything, just put it on and people naturally nod their head.

AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that’s it hard to get that reaction for fans now?

Buckshot: That’s a skill and that’s why we named it that. Kris has been in the game since 86, Buck’s been in the game since 92, it’s 2009, so I’m proud to say that I’m in the position that I’m in because at the end of the day like Kris said, there’s those that have a choice and those that don’t have a choice. Everybody has a choice, but there’s some that face different levels of that. The point of that is people can be wherever they at by their choice but bottom line what me and Kris is doing is something. We are moving; you can say whatever judgment or say whatever you want about the movement but, bottom line is we are moving you can’t stop it. Whatever your individual thing might be at the point and time me and Kris done did three shows after that already.

AllHipHop.com: Can you guys explain the concept behind the lead single, “Robot?”

Buckshot: It’s being recognized on the commercial level, but it’s not a commercial song. So whenever that happens that means it’s like a volcano. It’s done got so hot that it erupted from the underground, so naturally that it boiled and boiled over. When records like Robot and Survival Skills, anything that when KRS or Buckshot put it out you know because we’re two guys that don’t conform and say lets make a record right now and try to get this on the radio and use a mold of what’s out right to do it. When records like ours get on the radio it’s the volcano effect. You know that it’s hot because it got there through the underground.

KRS-One: That’s an excellent analogy too because it’s exactly what this project is like it’s a volcano. You notice how lava sits in the center of the earth hotter than anything that’s on the surface but it sits at the center of the earth. It’s always there but, every once in awhile it bubbles up to the top and you can’t stop it. It’s the hottest thing on the Earth and it comes from within, from the center from the underground. That’s a great analogy to sum this album up it’s like lava literally.

Buckshot: And that’s the reason why people are now hearing Robot on BET or MTV, it’s in the mainstream, but in reality we’re already on our third single we’re already on the Mary J. Bilge joint. We put out Survival Skills as well, but it shows you that we’re moving at the rate of the volcano or the lava. We’re already on the joint with Mary J. Bilge, but I will give acknowledgement to the fact that people are now hearing Robot, so its kind of new to them but that goes with the example that Kris was giving that’s part of the lava that y’all are just now feeling. What we got coming is terribly hot even if you make a comment of its ok, its good, or its wack; no matter what your one individual opinion is by anybody is the bottom line is you will see it so you can feel the effect of the lava or move with it.

KRS-One: And lava becomes the ground. You know lava after it cools it become the ground like dirt and rocks and shit. It becomes the actual foundation of what the Earth is and Buck is absolutely correct in the sense of saying that no matter what you think of this album we already know the truth and it was revealed to us on the Rock the Bells Tour.

AllHipHop.com: What exactly was it that you guys figured out during the tour?

KRS-One: We kind of knew in the studio what we had because we were kind of feeling it ourselves, but when you get on tour and you start doing brand new songs to people who ain’t never heard the stuff before and they’re vibing to it kicking to it, the lyrics is making them swing; and your competing against a Wu-Tang or M.O.P., Alchemist albums, and all that stuff and we still holding our own. Imagine Buckshot and KRS on Rock the Bells was the openers, we were opening acts you know what I’m saying. Let me even take it over there and speak on that level, imagine KRS-One, I got 26 gold and platinum plaques, I got 19 albums, but yet I’m an opener with Buckshot.

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AllHipHop.com: So what is that really saying?

KRS-One: That means that all these old school cats you listen to this shit real quick, and please quote me on this; the bigger you get the smaller you get, and the smaller you get the bigger you get. We’re dealing with quantum physics on this album right now. You get at KRS -One because supposedly this large artist, this legendary guy, this classic icon in hip hop culture, you would expect me to come off like Jay-Z. People ask me all the time, where’s your 50 Cent budget, where’s your TI budget, any of those guys that are selling millions of records. Where’s your Lil Wayne budget, people know, they know KRS deserves that, but that’s not the truth. The truth is hip hop, and with hip hop the bigger you get or if you really want get big, really, you got to get small. What I noticed on the album and I was talking about this with Buck last week was about people’s artwork.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the significance of the album artwork?

KRS-One: You look at the album artwork and it’s a scene of KRS and Buckshot going up a mountain, and it appears that KRS is climbing up this mountain and pulling Buckshot up this mountain with him. that’s one way of looking at the album cover and that’s really one way that it actually is. KRS, philosophical all that, we going to the mountain top, but if you look at the cover metaphysically and you see Buckshot, two hands on my arm which could signify Buckshot bringing KRS to the streets, keeping KRS grounded. Is it me that is lifting buckshot, or is it Buckshot that is grounding KRS-one? When I look at the cover I see both. Whatever your conscious level is on you can see that Buckshot is really grounding spiritual knowledge.

AllHipHop.com: How does that tie into the sound that we’re going to get from the album?

KRS-One: I mentioned Mary J; that song is about getting on grind and what happens when you lose your job. People want to hear that and that’s not our opinion. People feel I got to get on my grind, I need to listen to something that’s going to help me stay on my grind that’s what I need. Cats are sick of these fake ass rappers out here. Everybody claiming number one spots; everybody claiming to be the king of New York, king of Atlanta, the king of LA, king of Miami, everybody’s the king of this until KRS and Buckshot show up on one mic then all of y’all are talking and copping pleas and all of that, that’s the truth too.

AllHipHop.com: What makes you say that?

KRS-One: How many shows have me and Buck been on with platinum artists that don’t even want to go on, scared to go on because we in the building because real MCs are grabbing the mic. I think the people, White, Black, Asian, Latino, Native American, everybody, they want the real right now and that’s what Survival Skills is offering. So now we produce an album and it doesn’t matter what the reviews say. It’s great to get a great review, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you get a terrible review; KRS is old he should shut the fuck up, Buck should of done the album by himself, whatever it is it doesn’t fucking matter because at the end of the day we are showing you who the number one MCs actually are. These cats can have their rap music status all day, take your rap shit.

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KRS-One: This album is a conscious album except we’re on the album with big guns. I want my conscious community to know what a conscious album is. What does it means these days to be conscious? It ain’t about jewelry, ain’t about pussy, ain’t about street shit, ain’t about designer glasses.

Buckshot: and on top of that it ain’t about broke niggas either. Look at how Duck Down Records is doing while majors like Universal are struggling.

AllHipHop.com: Do feel like hip hop is at a watered down state so to say with a lack of real originality in whole and people instead sounding like they’re are just following the blueprint to make a hit.

KRS-One: Well first let me say that no it’s not watered down, and I know that sounds shocking, but it’s not watered down its just corporate. I think its just incompetence, motherfuckers is stupid. You didn’t study. You didn’t study the culture, you didn’t study the music industry, and you don’t even know the real movers and shakers. You know what you really got too much of hype and not enough truth. There’s too many lies and liars, and not enough revolutionaries.

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