Legendary hip-hop artist KRS-One explained the need for passion in learning as well as the entire history of hip-hop culture through antidotes from his life.
To an engaged audience filling up half of the Kenneth J. Minnaert auditorium on Nov. 10 KRS-One gave a four hour lecture.
He is the founder of the Stop the Violence Movement, the Human Education against Lies Movement, and the Temple of Hip-hop.
KSR-One stands for Knowledge Rains Supreme Over Nearly Everyone. He is known to the hip-hop community and culture as “the teacher.”
“KRS-One’s life is a testament and example for those who desire greatness,” said Diversity and Equity Center Coordinator Jose Gutierrez while introducing KRS-One.
KRS-One said to be a scholar of hip-hop and in order to correctly understand it you need to have passion for what you are studying and actually participate in the culture.
He warned that those who claim to teach hip-hop but do not really live it are not being honest. He placed a great significance on taking hip-hop seriously and said you must do this if you want to be successful in hip-hop.
“The living of hip-hop produces breaking, produces graffiti writing, produces beat boxing, produces DJing,” said KRS-One.
He said hip-hop is not simply rap. He made a clear distinction between main stream hip-hop and the actual culture, and how main stream hip-hop is more about money and less about conveying hip-hop’s original message.
According to KRS-One, hip-hop transcends race and gender boundaries.
KRS-One said BET does not serve as a good representation for hip-hop and on multiple occasions has not supported the original hip-hop culture.
Student and audience member Joshua Byrne said “learning the ways in which hip-hop has sold itself out” stood out to him.
Byrne said after the lecture he realized the effect of actions and behavior of mainstream hip-hop artists.
“I don’t know if the lion wants to be a predator, but it is what it is,” said Bryne when referring to hip-hop artists’ position as a celebrity role model and someone the public looks up to in the U.S.
KRS-One said the hip-hop’s founding father Kool DJ Herc, the inventor of DJing, plays a similar role in the culture to Jesus’ role in Christianity and Moses and Abraham’s role in Judaism.
Another founding father, according to KRS-One, is Afrika Bambaataa. Both of these performers and teachers never accepted contracts with large main stream media corporations. KRS-One especially relates to these founders because he too appreciates the culture much more than main stream’s adaptation of hip-hop.
Bambaataa’s role in the culture as an artist and mentor directly relates to efforts to stop violence within the community. Before his career in hip-hop he acted as lead member of the largest gang in New York City in 1973 said KRS-One. While still the founder of the gang, the Black Spades, Bambaataa won a trip to Africa in a United Nations’ Children’s Fund writing contest.
During his time spent in Africa realized the necessity of stopping gang violence in America, in order to not continue the ancient tradition of tribalism.
KRS-One highly emphasized Bambaataa’s power in the non-violence movement and his influence over other gangs in New York and other areas of the country.
A misconception KRS-One brought to the audience’s attention is the idea that all hip-hop is misogynistic. He advised his audience to look back to the culture and not focus exclusively on main stream media rap.
KRS-One also spoke about changing definitions of words in the English language.
“If you want the real definitions of words you ask the modern speaker the definition of the word they’re using,” said KRS-One. “When I get to my rap, every word I say is a new word in English.”
According to KRS-One the many women who are treated poorly in the U.S. should look to the women in hip-hop as role models of women gaining power and independence.
KRS-One urged people to look closer at the music in the hip-hop culture to see women empowerment, from song lyrics to artists such as Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige. He said you can see more women empowerment in hip-hop culture than in other facets of the United States.