KRS Vs. Nelly: KRS-One’s Official Statement

KRS-One and Nelly will be the latest artists in hip-hop to battle it out. Most people thought that KRS-One was taking jabs at Nelly in his song "Clear Em Out," and this was confirmed by a widely circulated email from a publicity company, seemingly seeking to promote the record that "Clear Em Out," appeared on. […]

KRS-One and

Nelly will be the latest artists in hip-hop to battle it out. Most people thought

that KRS-One was taking jabs at Nelly in his song "Clear Em Out,"

and this was confirmed by a widely circulated email from a publicity company,

seemingly seeking to promote the record that "Clear Em Out," appeared

on. This wasn’t the case. KRS responded, saying that after he heard the confusion

he contacted Nelly and his managment. Nelly obviously didn’t care for KRS’ explanation

and through jabs at the Blastmaster on the "Roc The Mic," remix which

features Beanie Sigel and Freeway. On the song he attacked KRS with surprising

agression, seeming to forget the Blastmasters notorious battling past. He will

be reminded now.

KRS has recorded "The Real Hip-Hop Is Over

Here," in response to Nelly’s dis. "I’m sending a message to Nelly,

his management team, and the entire corporate structure of the recording industry

(namely Universal Records) that you cannot be insensitive to our cultural traditions

and elders." Says KRS. "Furthermore, I am organizing a strategic campaign

designed to topple Nelly’s record sales. I am saying to the record buying public

and real hip-hoppas…. DON’T buy Nelly’s album on June 25th. Unfortunately

Nelly will serve as the sacrificial lamb to anyone that feels that they can

battle me on any level."

"The Real Hip Hop Is Over Here!" (Battle

statement by: KRS-ONE)

Well,… after speaking with Nelly’s management,

and after consulting with a few other un-named associates, in addition to some

hard contemplation of my own, as well as after reading many of the e-mail responses

and hearing some of the radio responses to Nelly’s performance on the re-mix

of "Rock the Mic"," I’ve come to the conclusion that a battle

(or rather a response) to Nelly’s comments may just be good for Hiphop after

all. The last thing I wanted to do was look like I was using a battle with Nelly

to somehow boost my career. However, my personal wants may be unimportant in

the larger scheme of separating real Hiphop from fake hip-hop for future Hiphop


I had put forth an "olive branch" statement

which Nelly, and his management, ignored! I had kept as quiet as I could. Even

though I am well prepared for any threat, I chose to practice restraint. His

management and production team had even sent me some tracks for my Kristyle

album (only later to take them back). Now I am wondering what makes Nelly think

he can call me out like this? What made the staff of Universal, Roc-a-Fella

or Def Jam records think it was wise to allow Nelly to appear on such a re-mix

and make such a statement? As I listen to Nelly’s weak dis, and as I read some

of these ignorant e-mail responses, I constantly hear a repeated reference to

KRS-ONE being old and trying to make a come-back .Many of these ill advised

comments miss the whole point that I make when I suggest that we, as Hiphoppas,

have an important responsibility to the future preservation of what we call


How long are we (Hiphoppas) going to sit quietly and allow these major recording

institutions to validate what success is for our culture and way of life? How

long are we going to allow rap music performers to participate in our cultural

degradation and international humiliation? I’m not talking about what a rapper’s

video looks like, or the content of a rapper’s song. I’m talking about the idea

of an industry of rappers, deejays, music editors, radio programmers and television

producers allowing cultural elders to be disrespected by new-comers when such

disrespect breaks Hiphop’s cultural continuity! Even if my critique of Nelly’s

image is debatable, where is the respect for my cultural seniority and acquired

wisdom. Do I not know what I am talking about? Or are we at a point in hip-hop

where cultural contribution takes a back seat to record sales?

Normally, I would have just sat this one out.

But as I think about it, there seems to be more at stake here than whether I

am perceived as arrogant, contradictory, or trying to make a come-back. The

lesson that must be taught to those recording corporations, doing business with

Hiphop Kulture, is that they cannot think their artist can disrespect a cultural

elder and not expect a fierce cultural retaliation! Nelly is only a symbol for

rappers that are willing to trample over the achievements and developments of

over 30 years of Hiphop Kulture! However, the real battle is with those major

distributors of rap music that care little for the preservation of Hiphop’s

culture, and actually disrespect us as they exploit us! This is unacceptable!

Nelly may perform in ignorance because he is new to the game. But someone, knowledgeable

of Hiphop’s history, should have fore-warned him. Unfortunately this did not

happen, and as a result, he (and his distributor) will serve as an example to

all recording corporations that allow such mistakes to occur.

It is of extreme importance that all true Hiphoppas

concern themselves with the idea that being an elder, being a classic, being

an adult, being a longtime contributor to Hiphop’s cultural continuity is not

something to be looked down upon; but in fact, it is something to look up to.

Such a status is something to look forward to. A community that respects only

what is young and new, lacks even the wisdom to continue itself. It cannot even

learn from its own past successes and failures because it does not respect the

collective voice of its experienced leaders. Such a community is bound to continuously

repeat the mistakes of its past, or trap itself in continuously re-inventing

its own wheel– never learning, never growing, never developing.

As I think about this whole thing, it becomes

obvious to me that we shall all become elders of this or that one day. That

our children shall also be elders one day. But what if being an elder is not

cool? What if being an adult is not cool? What if being wise and experienced

is not respected by our children? Do we not then find ways to destroy ourselves

at younger and younger ages? This is what Nelly’s comments mean to me. They

mean that, being an experienced elder (or cultural icon) means nothing if you

have not sold a million of something for your employer. This message stunts

the growth of Hiphop Kulture, because to be a Hiphoppa (in Nelly’s opinion)

you must act and live like you are forever 16 years old. In addition, its strips

our youth of the motivation to contribute to our on-going cultural experience

because in the end, no matter what there contribution has been it can be disregarded

and wiped away by any platinum selling performer of the future. This too is


As a result, I have launched several missiles

designed to disrupt the idea of disrespecting the cultural icons that made it

possible for others to artistically exist and prosper. Through a superior display

of skill, I shall teach the rap industry a much needed lesson regarding who

can, and who cannot be disrespected. This battle shall not have a winner, or

a loser. This battle, shall once and for all, define what is real Hiphop as

oppose to fake hip-hop. Deejays, editors, rappers, music executives and television

host that continue to degrade Hiphop Kulture by exposing the public to an exclusively

criminal, irresponsible and imbalanced image of Hiphop Kulture shall bare the

title of fake, and shall expose themselves as traitors in Hiphop’s history.

Those that present Hiphop as a culture that is made up of many artistic styles,

diverse ideas and multi- dimensional characteristics shall bare the title of

real, and shall be forever remembered in Hiphop’s history as patriots in the

cause of Hiphop’s cultural expansion.

Hiphop is not all about KRS-ONE. Hiphop is not

all about Nelly. Hiphop includes a variety of styles. But presently, radio and

television programmers, as well as rap music and hip-hop editors refuse to acknowledge

KRS-ONE’s work, while steadily pushing Nelly (and similar styles) to the general

public as authentic Hiphop culture. This is an act of fake hip-hop simply because

such presentations are imbalanced and one-sided. Real Hiphop is not about one

music production style, one rap style, one radio and video play-list, one type

of Hiphop image, one or two cute faces on all hip-hop magazine covers, and one

or two recording companies monopolizing the rap music market place! Hiphop is

about originality, creativity and a variety of talented people building upon

the greatness of Hiphop’s elements.

I do not care what Nelly, or anybody else’s,

response shall be after I drop these bombs! However, I do care about the free

future of Hiphop Kulture. I do care about what future Hiphop historians shall

say of our time. I refuse to sit quietly as ignorant rappers and non-caring

music executives, present Hiphop Kulture to the future as a bunch of mindless

fools who squandered there temporary wealth and popularity on platinum jewelry

with no response from its own cultural leadership. Remember,… fifty years

down the line you can start this/cause we’ll be the old school artist/ And even

in that time/ I’ll say a rhyme/ a brand new style/ ruthless and wild/ running

around spending money having fun/ cause even then…I’M STILL NUMBER ONE!