KRS-ONE on Hip Hop, Freedom and the Future, Part One
In 1965 he was born Laurence Krishna Parker, son of a West Indian immigrant to the United States. He gave himself many names: The Teacher, Blastmaster, Metaphysician. With social worker and DJ Scott LaRock, he co-founded the South Bronx hip hop group BDP--Boogie Down Productions--and began a public life that spawned hip hop’s Stop the Violence movement, cultural theory of hip hop, political consciousness-raising and mystical expression. Most long-time fans of hip hop regard him as one of the music’s finest and most influential emcees ever. That man is KRS-One.
Having released at least fourteen full-length albums including the debut Criminal Minded, By All Means Necessary, Edutainment, I Got Next and Keep Right, KRS-One has been a busy man in the history of hip hop music, and with ally Public Enemy helping to usher in the golden age of politically conscious and Africentric hip hop which fed and was fed by the rise of Spike Lee and the breakout of Black movie-making in the United States. But after 1991, political hip hop began to be eclipsed by the rise of NWA and gangsta rap. Within a few years, socially-conscious hip hop had all but disappeared.
Yet KRS-One stayed the course, releasing the final BDP album Sex and Violence which exhorted the criminal element to invest their profits so as to go straight and uplift their communities, and the album I Got Next whose song “A Friend” was an introspective look at a man sometimes dismissed as hip hop’s biggest ego. Surprising many fans, KRS-One released a gospel/hip hop album after converting to Christianity, a religion he had previously denounced with the phrase “If your slave master wasn’t a Christian, you wouldn’t be a Christian.” Despite that shift, Kris continues to espouse astrological, mystical and what he calls “metaphysical philosophies,” which sometimes seem to go against his earlier pan-Africanism and present Christianity.
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