Welcome back to third segment of AllHipHops exclusive four-part interview with KRS-One. In Part One, the Teacha discusses the uniqueness of hip-hop with Clayton Perry, followed by a introspective examination on the philosophical influences of Edgar Cayce, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and Bishop Clarence McClendon in Part Two. Continue below, in order to find out how KRS feels about Lil Wayne and the current music landscape.
AllHipHop.com: On page 10 of [the Gospel of Hip Hop], you write: many have forgotten the love of GOD. Desperate and impoverished and suddenly propelled to the top of the Worlds social circles, they marvel at the effects of their own artistic skills caring little for the cause of such skills; they just want to eat. Whats your take on this current state of rap music and rappers that proclaim themselves to be the best rapper alive? Do you think their comments are misguided?
KRS-One: Youre so right in this way, but let me just tell you how I deal with it in this sense. There is good in all of this. Let me criticize, first. First, the statement that you read in the Gospel, that was said with the spirit of not so much a judgment, but an observation as to the state of hip hop right now. These dudes dont know where their food comes from. And its really for them to read this themselves. This message will get to them in some way, shape or form, that you dont know how to do what you are doing, so youre doing of it is temporary. And this is what the Gospel of Hip Hop lays out its actually saving their lives and their necks as well, because deep down inside, if you really want to get money, and you say, I really want to get this cash. If you really want to get this cash, you cant act like the way a lot of these dudes act. Its impossible in real life. You cant do it. So, to be on a TV or radio or Internet, and you say, Im the best rapper alive. Im the greatest alive, they dont realize that youre bringing that onto yourself. We already learned that if you say youre criminal-minded, that you are going to attract criminal-minded activities to you. We learned the hard way that lesson. Bad Boy learned the lesson. Look at Ready to Die. If youre going to put a record out that says youre ready to die, well come on, man, this is what it is. So at the end of the day, these guys are going to probably have to learn the same lesson again, and the lesson is, Im the greatest. Im the best. Im the this. Well the greatest and the best is also socially responsible. I do believe that. Its just that a lot of these guys are young, and it is right to say you are the best.
KRS-One: But heres my second part to this. It is right to say you are the best. In hip hop, youve got to say that. Thats how youve got to come off, otherwise youre a punk, and you have no right to rap at all. You have to step up, Im the best. But then you find yourself in a club with KRS one night. Its industry night. Or maybe its not. Maybe its somewhere where real dudes are in getting it in. And you may have the hottest record on radio, or on the Internet, you may be selling millions of CDs, but I tell you the truth. Ive been around since 77, but professionally twenty-three years since Criminal Minded [repped] South Bronx. In those twenty years, Ive seen dudes with platinum s**t, crazy, all over the place. That means nothing when you step before the people.
Now, if you say, Im the best, then be the best. That means you say it, thats why Im on my way, thats why Im on my way to be the best. But then with hip hop, see, hip hop tests you. Now that dont mean you in the club and say, Im the best, but then you never in the club. Or you say, Im the best, but you never really where dudes are spittin’. And I be where cats be spittin that. I be in the battles. I be at the Lions Den up in Harlem. What Im pointing out is that these guys have the right to say whatever they want in their fantasyland. In a poetic sense, they have the right to say whatever they want. Freedom of speech. We live in a free country. However, at some point youre going to meet Supernatural in the club. And youre going to be embarrassed. Im not fronting. Youre going to be embarrassed, and it happens over and over.
AllHipHop.com: I can only imagine! [laughing]
KRS-One: I cant tell you the list that Ive embarrassed. I wasnt even trying to, because Im not that type to try and show somebody up. I come in humble, but Im going to do me. I come in there, Im doing me, and these cats cant even take it. Platinum dudes, they wont want to go on after KRS. They dont want me in the building. They dont call me for tours. None of that. You know, I was the host of Rock the Bells. Cats was getting it in. In, in, in. We was getting it in. I bought some Hulk gloves and went to work. Crazy. But you dont think they see that? These kids see that, too, these rappers that are claiming to be the best at this and the best of that. They know, really, what it is, and they have to say that really.
Let me say this. I do have an aura of elitism, that I am the best. But I would never irresponsibly run around yelling Im the best! the way were hearing it come across. Youve done nothing. Youve only been on the scene two years, if that. You have one record, and youre claiming king, and all of this. No doubt, thats poor. But what it also says, though, is its ignorant. If you can get past the criticism real quick because its wack when people do that: you claiming the best but youre not. You claim mastery, but youre not a master. You havent mastered your craft, yet. Slow down. But thats the problem with the youngn. See the youngn always has that problem. I had that problem, too. But I had to learn to control my arrogance.
AllHipHop.com: As the old saying goes: Heavy is the head that wears the crown!
KRS-One: Definitely. I feel for Kanye. I feel for Drake. I feel for these guys who do have to wear their career on their shoulder, on their chest, to make everybody know theyre the best, because its brutal out there. It really is. When I was coming up, I had Melle Mel on my back. I mean, imagine that s**t. I mean, I would not be who I was if it wasnt for Melle Mel. Lets just start right there. That its. Melle Mel. Thats me, KRS-One, straight up and down. And here now, Ive got to actually stomach the fact that this dude wants to battle me, live at the Latin Quarter, because I am saying: Im taking all comers. Im from the Bronx. And Im starting with Bronx MCs. So Melle Mel took offense, and was like, No, you aint the best around here. Melle Mel is. And I said, Oh, no. Youre finished. And the battle, it went on. And I came out victorious, and a lot of people saw it. And thats what it was. But that dont mean you run around, still saying youre the best. To this day, I still give Melle Mel reverence, saying to you what Marley Marl, the late Mr. Magic, everybody that I battled in that sense. But youve got to have some sportsmanship about yourself. And thats what a lot of people are not really exercising is the sportsmanship to the whole thing. If you are the best, then you are just the best. Thats it. You dont yell it. You dont say it. You dont have to say it. Your skill is going to show the world who the best is.
AllHipHop.com: Well, humility is a trait that is often hard to come by! [laughing]
KRS-One: True! [laughing] But it is good to be in a community where all the artists think theyre the best. Thats a good thing. Its a brutal thing, because there can only really be one. So there is a process of elimination, no doubt. But hip hop is vast enough where if you aint talkin that s**t, then aint nobody coming at you like that. But if you want to step into the arena, and how you step into the arena is by saying Im the best over all of you. Oh, well now lets put that to the test. Lets see if thats really what it is. And Im that dude. Im that dude right there who walks around with no other purpose than to put that claim to the test. Sometimes its not even my words. Its just my presence.
When I walk in a building, or walk into a party I be at these industry parties when I get a chance. And I see how people move. I see how the room moves around, like, Oh, s**t, KRS is here. And Im like, Yeah, KRS is here, what? You thought it was going to be fake all night? You know how many cats say that and cant look me in the eye. And on the flip side. Ill tell you a real story about Wayne. Real Wayne. I like his style. I think Wayne is bussin off at you as an MC. I havent seen his show, so Im reluctant to call him an MC.
AllHipHop.com: Why is that?
KRS-One: I mean, Ive seen his show, and he was just getting money. I havent really seen him in his element, like going in, hungry and off-stage, to call him an MC-MC. But I like his metaphors. I like how he puts his words together, for the style in which hes coming with. Now he claims the best, too.
AllHipHop.com: Oh, yes, Wayne definitely thinks he is the best rapper alive or dead! [laughing]
KRS-One: I remember the BET Hip Hop Awards, when I was there to get my Lifetime Achievement Award. Right in the wings, Wayne was like, Yo. The Teacha. And Im like, Yo, dont even start. So I give him a pound, and I say, Let me tell you something. You are the number one MC today. He said, Yo, dont f**k with me, Kris. Dont say that s**t, man. Dont f**k with me. Coming from you? Dont fuck with me. Everybody was staring around like a hundred people. And hes like, Dont f**k with me, man. I told him: Stay focused. Dont get distracted. Dont get with that bulls**t. You are the number one MC. Stay focused. Take hip hop with you. Everybody clapped. The s**t was ridiculous. He broke down into tears. It was ridiculous.
Somebody got it on film, somewhere. Cameras were all over the place. I was just telling him, You the number one. You the number one. But the point is: he took that s**t seriously. And I said it seriously and he took it like, Wow. KRS-One validated my whole s**t right now. Oh, s**t. And he was waiting for that. He was looking for that. He could always pop that yang, he could always say, Yeah, Im the best, and Im selling . . . But theres a part in his soul that wants Africa Bambaataa to come by and shake his hand. Theres a part of his soul that wants to be accepted by Chuck D or have a KRS come over. All them dudes from 50 on down everybody and Im saying it because Im living it this aint gossip. Im living these things. These dudes are coming to me with real questions about their lives: this, that and the other. I probably need a reality show. I need to stop bulls**tting and go get a reality show so that people can really see.
AllHipHop.com: Why dont you give Viacom a call?!? [laughing]
KRS-One: Man, I should! [laughing] Ill just be walking down the street and run into somebody an artist, an executive, somebody you knew or something like that, and they be like, Yo, let me tell you, man. Its like this. Its like that. Its not always tad and bad news. A lot of times cats be like, Yo, I just got blessed crazy. Im on my way here, here and here. Its not always death and destruction in hip hop. Its not always, Yo, ni**a, whats up? We beefin. Hip hop got a lot of love in it. Cats are exchanging information, resources. People are getting together.
I just got a new album from Masta Ace and Ed O.G, and that s**t is kind of hot. I also say it because Im on it! [laughing] But Masta Ace slid off. I did some eight bar thing for him some months ago, and he gave it to me. He said, Look. Its finished. Here listen to it. Tell me what you think. So I listen to the whole album. The whole album was good. I was like: Damn, listen to Ace. Listen to Ed O.G, man. These cats, they doing it, and you can only do it for love, now. You can get a little money, no doubt. Theres still money out there to get. But not no more selling no CD. Youll get a little something. But really, if you aint doing it really for the love of it right now, you not really doing it. You cant really do it. And its funny how the universe works that out. The cats that did it for the money, now, cant do hip hop, because theres no money in rap music.
AllHipHop.com: Well, I guess you can say that Mother Nature ran her course and let all of the genuine MCs persevere! [laughing]
KRS-One: True! [laughing] But the money in rap music is getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller, and everybodys running to movies and fashion lines and restaurants and whatever other entrepreneurial thing they could come up with, but nobodys really thinking about hip hop. See, the Gospel talks about that, too, about how we drove the car far and now we need to gas up again. And everybodys just saying, Up. Were here. Lets get out of the car, and leave the car because were here now. We drove the car. We have corporations. Were in everything, now. Hip hop is everything. So thats it, now fuck hip hop. It just fades away. No! Not on KRS on watch. So this is where the Gospel comes to us because were saying, No. More than ever now, lets decide who is hip hop and who really isnt.
And not me saying, This is hip hop and this isnt. But you will say to yourself, I love this culture. I ain’t part of this bulls**t. And f**k, with your own mouth, you say, Boom. Im not down. But if you are down, with your own mouth, you dont say, Yo, I am hip hop. This is me. Im this. I feel this. This is what Im about. This is what Im going to eat off of. This is how Im going to define myself. And thats what were really putting forward. I think its a brilliant time, really, for it. Its a brilliant time to do it. Its the right time to do it. Do you realize that the Gospel of Hip Hop, even though I stay away from the term religion, is really defining culture? Your culture is your religion, and your religion is your culture, in that sense. What you live daily is your religion, is your culture. I live hip hop daily, and millions of other people do, too. So it can be called our religion.