KRS-One: The 4-Part Interview (2/4)

PART TWO(Read Part 1)  On the page preceding the opening chapter, you cite the following quote from Edgar Cayce: “Heaven is not a place you go to, it is a place you grow to.” Taken out of context, I would like to know when you first stumbled upon that quote, as well as […]


TWO(Read Part 1)  On the page preceding the opening chapter, you cite the

following quote from Edgar Cayce: “Heaven is not a place you go to, it is a

place you grow to.” Taken out of context, I would like to know when you first

stumbled upon that quote, as well as the immediate impact it had on you. And

then putting it back into context, I would like to know why you decided to open

your book with it.  What does that

particular quote mean to you?

KRS-One:  Well first of all, Edgar Cayce is the man. Straight up and

down. This dude, they used to call him “the sleeping prophet.” Most of the

quotes that are in the book are my attempts to guide hip hop to a further

spiritual or philosophical knowledge. So Edgar Cayce, right up at the top, is

telling you exactly where we are at. We are into psychic ability. We don’t

front on that. We are into speaking to the dead, speaking beyond time,

meditation, creative visualization, fasting, prayer; these things, we’re into

that. So, if you do research on Edgar Cayce, you’ll see right there where he’s

at, and you will already know what type of document this is, and what type of

politics, what type of spiritual paradigm I am coming from. On another level –

I’m going to be arrogant on this and say – real philosophers know about the

work of Edgar Cayce, number one. Number two, real American philosophers hide

the work of other American philosophers. Too many American-born philosophers

quote philosophers from Europe, quote philosophers from Asia, and quote people

from other times, too. The reason I put Edgar Cayce front-and-center is because

he’s from our time and he’s from the United States of America. Let’s start

right at home. Let’s start right here. These are the reasons. I believe in the

validity of the statement, “Heaven is not a place you go to. It is a place you

grow to.” That also tells you what the book is going to be about. Heaven is not

an abstract place. It is not far off. It is not unreal, an illusion of fantasy

or figment of your imagination. It’s not a cloud in the sky up in space. It’s

actually a state of mind. It’s not an illusionary state of mind, it’s actually

an adjusted state of mind where you can actually see heaven all around you.

Jesus spoke, and so many prophets spoke about heaven being laid out all around

us, but we just don’t see it because we don’t care to see it. So the point is

you’re going to live and grow to heaven. This is the first part. Second piece

of that is that it’s time for new knowledge. That’s what the Gospel

of Hip Hop is putting forward, anyway. It’s

time for new knowledge. It’s time for us to update the principles that we are

used to. Let us talk about growing to heaven, that heaven is a state of

spiritual maturity, not a place that you actually go to. That’s a slightly

different approach, but the hip hop approach, the way that we are all already

practicing heaven. In the inner cities, it’s just never been written down in

that sense. This is an urban philosophy, urban lifestyle. Our children will

call it a religion, but for us right now, it’s just a documentation of our

culture spiritually.  In addition to Edgar Cayce, you also quote the Honorable

Minister Louis Farrakhan on several occasions. One quote in particular struck

me very hard.  It’s kind of long,

but I’ll just cut to the chase.  In

a nutshell, Farrakhan talks about the importance of teachers and how the artist

plays an important role in society. 

In fact, he tells us: “The artist is the most important person!  YOU ARE THE TEACHAS!  The people listen to you, they don’t

listen to their preachers! 

Preacher’s day is done!” I thought that quote was really, really

interesting. What social responsibilities should artists have to the

communities they represent? Although you are quite clear in expressing what an

artist’s social responsibility should be, what do you think it will take to actually make them responsible?

KRS-One:  Well, you know, it’s interesting. When I heard Minister

Farrakhan say it, I was floored, because here you have a preacher. Minister

Farrakhan is a preacher, in every sense of the word. And here he is

acknowledging the truth. And the truth is hard. See, this is where it goes back

to philosophy. Sometimes the truth will even destroy you. And that’s why a lot

of people don’t want to really look at the truth. They want to skirt around —

and it’s cool, I mean, I’m not criticizing. But I am separating. I’m making a

separation here, quickly, between the analysis that you’re talking about and

where everybody else is coming from. First of all, we don’t quote American

philosophers. I had to stick Minister Farrakhan in there. As it was written,

this is not about anybody’s religion, at all. We respect everybody. I even

think that Satan has sinned there. Everybody gets respect. No doubt. Hip hop

stands independent, no doubt. However, there has been one dude that’s been in

our ear since…  …forever!

KRS-One:  Yeah, man! 

Since the ’70s. Forever, this dude’s been in our ear. Minister

Farrakhan!  Now keep in mind, too,

this is an elder. Minister Farrakhan’s been sick. He beat cancer. He’s always

getting criticized. His work was hard – death threats, all that s**t. And then

the Nation of Islam itself don’t let Minister Farrakhan start talking about the

internal structure of the Nation. He’s brutal, even with his own people. He’s a

leader. So, at the end of the day, I felt it fitting in a book like this that

goes down forever, and also is a book from the youth — like I’m the youth

compared to Minister Farrakhan – let’s start the book off with the dude that

Public Enemy rapped about, that Kane quoted, that we all heard and admired and

saw the struggle first-hand. And even if you don’t agree, you’ve got to agree

with this dude’s eye on hip hop. From day one, Minister Farrakhan’s been

pointing at us, telling us we are divine and we need to stop this nonsense.

Minister Farrakhan’s never pulled punches with hip hop. He’s called us out,

called cats out.  Big gangsta

dudes, he had them on their knees, crying. He had Ja Rule crying – straight up

and down! This is a man in our culture taking meetings and summits. Sad to say,

I ain’t see no Jews do that. I don’t see no Christians come like that. There’s

one Christian that I mention in the book. His name’s Clarence McClendon –

Bishop Clarence McClendon. I met him out in California. He was running a hip

hop church in California and was getting heat for it. And I went there and I

got saved in his church, right there.  Oh, wow!

KRS-One:  But I mention him in the book because he put out a thing

called The X Blessing. And he

talked about how biblically hip hop is the new way in the new world. And he, as

a Christian minister, this dude was saying, these dudes are going to come

smelling like weed with guns in their pockets, and we Christians are not going

to know how to deal with them. We’re not going to know. He was telling them:

“Get prepared. This is how God always works. It’s the least one, the one you

don’t expect, the one who looks like they bugging – that’s the one God’s gonna

pick and raise up.” I quoted his whole thing. That, too, is in the Gospel as

well. But that’s about it. Everybody else was dissing. And to get back to your

question about what’s the responsibility of the artist. Preacher’s day is done.

Of course you got to read into that, I mean, because the preachers day is not

done. It has only just begun. But what Minister Farrakhan is speaking to is

that old style — “We gonna make it.” Same old quotes. “No weapon formed

against me shall prosper.” Same old quote on the Muslim side. “All praise to

Allah.” Farrakhan says all that is over now. There’s a new day popping, and

everybody feels it, but very few people have the courage to step up in their

position because you’re going to get dissed by those who have to hold on to the

old power. And you’re going to get praised by those who are standing at the

door trying to get in. And so you’ve got to decide yourself in even putting a

gospel like that forward — which goes back to the question you posed about the

responsibility of the art. You’ve got to ask yourself the question: “Who am I?”  Yes!  It is a

question that many of us spend an entire lifetime trying to answer.KRS-One:  This is why your question is half-half for me. It’s yes and

no with this responsibility to the artist, because really to be honest with

you, it’s not even about the artist. It’s about the man or the woman. It’s

really about what type of person are you. And I honestly believe that you’ve

got to be ordained to do these things. Like to feel like a Poor Righteous Teacher

or a Public Enemy or to feel like any of X-Clan — that’s an inner thing. That’s

a thing that motivates you, like you as a man or as a woman are the type to not

let injustice go past you. You as a man, as a woman, cannot be bought or bribed

in that sense. So you’ve got to be a certain kind of person to want to help

people, to want to save people. I used to get criticized for that, too. They

said I had a savior complex. I was trying to be a messiah. I was starting a

cult when I mentioned the temple of hiphoppas. People were like, “Oh, Kris is

starting a cult.” And when I put out Spiritual Minded. Then it was: “Oh, Kris is a Christian, now.” And

when I started talking about hip hop building its own secret society. Folk

said: “Kris is with the Illuminati, now.” And I can imagine, what’s people

going to think now of the Gospel of Hip Hop? [laughing]  It’s enlightening to hear you say all of this, because I get

a lot of heat from people, because I’m really big on artist responsibility. I

know you said you were half and half on it, but when I had the chance to study

abroad in college, I was floored by how international audiences digest American

culture.  99% of the time, that is

the only way in which black people, and hip hop culture in general, are

introduced to the world – through multimedia.  No disrespect to Charles Barkley and other superstars who

use the recycled — “I’m not a role model. That’s not my responsibility.” –

line. But I feel that once you have elevated yourself via some platform and you

make your life work available for mass consumption, you have to embrace that

and say, “I am a role model even if I don’t want to be.” So, with all that

being said, there is a quote in the Gospel of Hip Hop where you breakdown and create an acronym for the

word sin – selfish,

inconsiderate, needs. There are a lot of artists out there who are claiming,

“I’m the best rapper alive. I’m the best rapper ever.” But I don’t really feel

like the product they’re putting out is changing lives. It’s selling albums,

but I don’t really feel like it’s making the type of music that would inspire

social or political change. So when I look at an artist like yourself, who

doesn’t have that commercial success, but for some reason, people are coming

back to you and doling out mounds of critical acclaim, what does that say?

KRS-One:  Well, to be perfectly honest, the music doesn’t match the

statement. Your music is not matching your claims. And this is what the issue

really is.