View Full Version : KRS-One - "Hip-Hop Is Alive" (A MUST READ!)

12-29-2006, 03:08 PM
KRS-One: Edutainment
By Chris "Milan" Thomas

For over a decade, KRS-One has campaigned that “I Am Hip-Hop” in part of his “Rap is something you do, Hip-Hop is something you live” mantra. With that conviction, The Teacha had to feel some kind of way when friend and associate Nas declared Hip-Hop’s death with his recent album title.

With his own latest album called Life, this lends itself to a symbolic discussion. Few would contest that KRS-One is a deep thinker. The MC, the man, and the icon discusses his opinions, comments on Hip-Hop’s lineage of respect, defends the South, and honors the late James Brown in a unique fashion. If Hip-Hop isn’t dead, it sure ain’t living right. That’s one thing Nas and KRS-One seem to agree on. Do you?

AllHipHop.com: The phrase “Hip-Hop is dead” has been in the vernacular for the last two months. It would be an incomplete conversation if we didn’t have your two cents on the issue.

KRS-One: [Laughing] I’ll give you a nickel!

AllHipHop.com: The resounding theme has been the death of Hip-Hop. Ghostface, earlier, he blamed Snap for its demise – and a lot of people agreed with him. Then Nas took it a step further, and made an album [Hip Hop is Dead], proclaiming the death of Hip-Hop. You’re someone who has been an inspiration to both of them, so what’s your opinion? Is Hip-Hop dead?

KRS-One: No, ‘cause you’re on the phone with Hip-Hop right now, so I would start there. Of course Hip-Hop cannot be dead. We’re looking at poetry, we’re looking at symbolism, we’re looking at vision even. I think Nas is warning us. I think one of the best ways to warn a culture is to shock it.

I think Nas shocked Hip-Hop culture by declaring its death. By declaring its death, it means that it will live now. A lot of people don’t like the term “Hip-Hop is dead.” The people that I know, grassroots organizations, universities, and cats that’s livin’ the culture for real, they’re like, “Nah, this is crazy! This is actually the epitome of the apathy, complacency, and money-grabbin’, and bling bling, and pimpin’ – this is the height of it. Nas is pointing it out.

The actual song “Hip Hop is Dead” says “Go to the stations and murder the DJ,” That kind of sums it up. Really, Hip-Hop is dead ‘cause nobody is takin’ responsibility for it. DJs have lost their sense of responsibility to the culture. They’re just employees now. They’re not culture-bearers. Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Flash, Grand Wizard Theodore, Kid Capri, Brucie Bee – these are the priests of the culture – Red Alert, Chuck Chillout – they made us who we are, they broke my records. Chuck Chillout did not wanna sound like Marley Marl [and vice versa]. Both of ‘em didn’t wanna sound like Red Alert, and the three of ‘em didn’t wanna sound like Jazzy Jay.

Today, everybody wants to sound like Funkmaster Flex, simple and plain! Even West Coast and Southern DJs think they’re playin’ Dirty South, they’re not. They’re just playing what the program directors are telling them to play, which is what these record company conglomerates are paying for. If we could just look at the truth, we could see what Nas is talking about. The truth is – the Hip-Hop he knew, the Hip-Hop we knew – Latin Quarter Hip-Hop, Rooftop Hip-Hop, Roxy Hip-Hop, Disco Fever Hip-Hop, Danceteria Hip-Hop, The Palladium Hip-Hop, that Hip-Hop is dead. No doubt about it.

In his song, Nas says, [paraphrasing] we used to do this, now we do this – and let’s go to the stations and murder the DJs. That is not Hip-Hop dying, that’s Hip-Hop alive! A couple of weeks ago, Nas and I were doing the Nike [Air Force One Anniversary party], and they tried to get him to say “Go to the stations and wreck the DJ,” as opposed to “murder,” I convinced him to say “murda!” Don’t wreck the DJ, murda the DJ!

AllHipHop.com: But Kris, this is the early ‘90s class saying this. Could it be that the early ‘90s generation is just reluctant to pass the torch on to the new generation?

KRS-One: Nah! I would not even go there, good question though! Let’s just talk about cultural continuity. When Kool Herc started in 1973 – let’s say ’72, ‘cause I was there – Herc says ’73 – in 1973, when Kool Herc came out with the biggest sound system, and there was Pebbly Poo and Clark Kent and everybody that he was influencing, it was called “the next generation of Hip-Hop.” The next generation after Kool Herc was Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay. Even though Afrika existed during Kool Herc, he’d walk up to Herc and pay homage, and say, “I’m gonna do what you do.” So Herc passes the torch, and Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay get the torch, and Jay gave Herc the highest respect everytime he touched a turntable. Herc didn’t have to wait in line to get into a Jazzy Jay party. If Herc wanted on, in the middle of Jay’s set, he’d put the headphones on Herc’s head. When you say “the torch being passed,” the torch was being passed – right up until we got to [Sugarhill Gang’s] “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. The torch got dropped on the floor. And when the flame was just about out, Russell Simmons picked up the torch and said, “All respect due to Kool Herc, Afrika Bamaataa, Red Alert, The L Brothers.” And Queens had its own crew – Run-DMC, they paid homage and respect to the guys that came before them. Russell Simmons and his Def Jam [Records] has not stopped paying homage to the true-school. He pays respect, he pays for hotels; Russell is a big supporter of people like Kool Herc, Busy B, Brucie B – and it’s not broadcasted everywhere, but Russell is a supporter of people who put him on. We all shared the torch.

When I came out in 1986, I came out battling MC Shan, Mr. Magic, and Marley Marl. Now, the torch wasn’t handed to me, I had to fight for it. I demanded it. I had to fight my way to the top. What does that mean? It meant if I want to be in this culture, I’ve got to prove my value to those who came before me. Otherwise, I’m breaking cultural continuity – the line of respect. My first record was “South Bronx,” and in “South Bronx,” I shouted everybody out in the history of Hip-Hop. I’m telling people where I came from and what line of respect you are listening to. It wasn’t like Bambaataa cared. He didn’t care about KRS-One in 1986, ‘cause he didn’t have to. He’s still above me. “When is the next Zulu reunion, Bam? You are my god, you are my lord and savior. I would not be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for you, Afrika Bambaataa, so let me stay in my place and in my line of respect.” I stayed there [until] 1989, when I put out the “Stop the Violence” movement, that’s when I got my respect. They gave me a big plaque, and a whole bunch of other stuff – which I have to this day. Not a platinum plaque, not a gold plaque, but Afrika Bambaataa reached in his pocket and paid at a trophy store somewhere to have this made for me. He said, “Here, I am passing the torch.”

[Today], the South gives respect. They treat Kool Herc as Jesus, they treat Afrika Bambaataa as Moses, they treat KRS-One as David. I lived in Atlanta for six or seven years, and I could do no wrong there. I could go to any radio station, TV station, club – door open. I go to New York, I gotta wait on a guestlist. I go to HOT97, I’m the voice of the station, you playin’ my drops, and I gotta wait downstairs for you cats to tell me when’s it cool --- get the f**k outta here! That s**t makes absolutely no sense! That’s why the South is now on top – because they stayed true to the culture. Will they continue? That’s a big question mark. Not to reach in the lid – ‘cause I know how AllHipHop.com can get [laughs], I ain’t f**kin’ with y’all – but that was the problem with Nelly. The streets level, not the KRS level – and it’s reflected in the Beef DVD.

So you ask, “Where’s the torch?” We’re still holding it! We’re waiting for the real cats to pass it to. But I must say, the torch is passed to the South. I love the South. For instance, Usher. Usher is Hip-Hop, straight up and down! Why would I say that, ‘cause in every single one of his videos, he’s poppin’ and lockin’ and breakin’. Missy Elliot, she got Rock Steady Crew in her video! That means she paid them, flew them out, and put ‘em up in a hotel for her million dollar video, and once again promoted them to the world. You think I care if she got Timbaland or Dr. Dre producing? Missy Elliot gets the ultimate respect. Jay-Z is Hip-Hop. In one line [on “Heart of the City”] he said he was taking back from n***as for what they did to the Cold Crush [Brothers]. In one line, he entered the Temple of Hip-Hop. That’s all we lookin’ for! I got a torch, Herc got a torch, Bam got a torch, Nas got a torch. Pick a torch that you want, and try to get us to give it to you. But if you think you gonna challenge us, and make us wait outside, you gonna steal our lyrics, you gonna act like we don’t exist, and takin’ over The Source magazine and XXL. I saw The “New” Source got “The Bible for Hip-Hop”, and you open the magazine and see nothin’ but b***hes and hoes, God is gonna strike these mothaf**kas dead! They’ll never put KRS-One on their cover, even though I was the first one on their cover – after Slick Rick, and paid for The Source to exist. I [taught the founders about] “Music, Culture, Politics” but you won’t put me on the cover? That’s cool, I don’t need the cover – our children do. God’ll strike you, not me. Mark these words. This is not a threat, this is a warning from a prophet in the culture!

12-29-2006, 03:16 PM
KRS ONE Speaks on James Brown

AllHipHop.com: How will James Brown’s death affect Hip-Hop?

KRS-One: James Brown is the Grandfather of Hip-Hop, of course recognizing Kool Herc as the father. You’re talking to a 25 year theologian, and Christ is my s**t. Jesus is my s**t, that’s my n***a! [Laughs]

This guy, James Brown, dying on Christmas is very symbolic. Dying on Christmas, we know God is looking at us! We established right here and now. According to Christian tradition, James Brown dying on Jesus’ birthday means that Hip-Hop starts today.

If you ask me, I think we should start Hip-Hop over on every Christmas. James Brown dying on Christmas, Lord have mercy! We have the opportunity, right now, to take Christmas [to share a federal holiday for Hip-Hop]. We can use federal law to our advantage.

James Brown dying on Christmas Day means that for us, we don’t have to celebrate Christmas no more, that’s over! That “White Christmas” bulls**t is over! Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas, we know that’s a lie now.

Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ, much less gift-giving, commercialism, and consumerism. Now, Hip-Hop has a chance to reestablish what Christmas really about. Christmas is about the birth of the Christ within yourself.

You celebrate Christmas and you don’t say, “Jesus is born on this day,” – the ancient reason is Christ is born in you! God is born in you for another year.
James Brown passing on Christmas could mean the birth of Soul in you.

He is the Godfather of Soul – not Pop, not R&B, not Rock, not Blues, not Jazz – Soul music!

We should print the lyrics of “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” and we should say it every Christmas. [KRS recites lyrics] He summed up the entire Black struggle.

James Brown dying on Christ’s birthday shows not only who he was – Christ returned – but that Hip-Hop has a chance, politically, to take a day. Let’s celebrate James Brown! Hip-Hoppers celebrate the birth of their Soul, the birth of their Christ, the birth of their nature.

Every Christmas, we gonna play James Brown records. All that White Jesus stuff is over! Matter of fact, I’m gonna call James Brown “James Brown the Christ.” When you look at Jesus, look at James Brown.

Why wouldn’t you? The first painting of Jesus – the White man with long flowing hair is not what Jesus looked like – we know this. But we accept the lie out of habit, and it’s destroying us.
The Vatican knows this! The Vatican says Jesus could be any color, any faith. Why not James Brown? Hip-Hoppers could say “James the Christ.” Further, Lord have mercy, in The Bible James was the brother of Christ.
Hip-Hop could do this so sweetly, and take a federal holiday for itself, establishing what Christmas really means.

There is nobody who is more influential to Hip-Hop than James Brown. Kool Herc said that James Brown was the A-1 b-boy, the first MC, the first DJ – ‘cause he had two drummers.
The drummer was what the turntable was today. When one finished playing, the other’d start, and sometimes they’d play together! Tell me this man is not the Christ! Tell me this man is not is Hip-Hop, straight up! James Brown is our artistic father.
We all sample from him. This is a day where we exchange gifts. The gift exchanged with us from James was our culture.
He freely gave his music to our culture. To me, that brings tears to my eyes! That’s some god s**t. That’s the lord and savior.
On December 25th, James Brown gives the gift of himself to his children. What’s the gift we should be givin’ back? We should be givin’ back his request. “These record companies stole from me, get it back.” Get it back, children. There should be a James Brown Soul Museum, not a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. James Brown.


12-29-2006, 03:36 PM
I got motherfuckers walking up to me left and right going 'nas is right hip hop is dead, hip hop is dead blablabla' I say to them mofuckas, "how is hip hop dead when I rap everyday".

12-29-2006, 03:45 PM
I got motherfuckers walking up to me left and right going 'nas is right hip hop is dead, hip hop is dead blablabla' I say to them mofuckas, "how is hip hop dead when I rap everyday".

people are taking what Nas is saying the wrong way
others just wanna talk about what he Rhymed about and choose sides
so they can have something to talk about
which is what i think Nas wanted

to build dialogue on a lost culture - to get it organized - and paint a picture of what it truly is instead of the public using it to be what they want it to be

12-29-2006, 03:47 PM
maybe its a diversion tactic and Nas has something up his sleeve...

i heard a rumor about a rumor that somebody heard a rumor that there was a rumor about Nas being rumored to have lunch with a prominent political figured (rumored to be the President)

12-29-2006, 04:42 PM
Thanks APSU

12-29-2006, 06:25 PM
good read good shit

naz hip hop is dead is dope mad clever I love the concept
if hiphop is to die lets go kill the mother fuckers who killed it, if hiphop is to die lets die together thats some ill shit to say & to me it shows mad love for the culture
I think people dont listen they just hear what they want to hear
I think most people just listen for a dope beat & a catchy hook only true hiphop head examine every word a nigga says....... but thats just my opinion

Prolifical ENG
12-30-2006, 06:33 PM
Yes, the concept "Hip-hop is Dead" may supposed to be tricky. I guess Nas meant for it to be interpreted in many different ways.

12-30-2006, 07:14 PM
What the fuck is up with this? this interview has already been posted twice in the hip hop spot.

Prolifical ENG
12-30-2006, 08:27 PM
What the fuck is up with this? this interview has already been posted twice in the hip hop spot.

well I didnt catch it there probably because MR HIP HOP posted one of those latest allhiphop newslinks :D so i skipped

Dirty Knowledge
12-31-2006, 06:37 PM
I got motherfuckers walking up to me left and right going 'nas is right hip hop is dead, hip hop is dead blablabla' I say to them mofuckas, "how is hip hop dead when I rap everyday".

That's real.

maestro wooz
12-31-2006, 10:09 PM
this shit's been spinning my little head around. At first i thought fuck yeah nas hip hop is dead, then i said fuck nah nas hip isnt dead, then i thought about it and if hip hop isnt dead its dying, then i said fuck nas hip hop will never dieand this is just a marketing ploy, then i said fuck yeah nas hip hop isnt dead but hip hop is dying and this is just a marketing tool to get people talking about shit.

01-01-2007, 05:16 PM
R&B rappers are killing hip-hop.;(

01-01-2007, 08:00 PM
I haven't bought or heard the LP yet, but i will soon. i know how nas get down, and what i can say is that the term 'hip hop is dead' is on point to a certain extent. it's gone corportate, sort of like JLo going Hollywood. I miss the "Selena", "Money Train", "In Living Color" JLo =(

01-02-2007, 11:58 AM
enjoyable read,

if the mere title of nas' album gets people talking about making hip hop better, than it is a good thing.

01-03-2007, 10:57 AM
I loved this interview it was very deep Krs-one was dropping crazy jewels.
I found Nas saying "Hip-hop is dead", meaning it's commercial and everybody's wanting to rap know!
Meaning shit's sounding corny knowadays!

01-05-2007, 01:24 PM
i seen the death of Hip Hops music coming about 21 years ago when they first used Hip Hops Music in a commercial to sell children's toys

01-05-2007, 01:25 PM

01-05-2007, 02:19 PM
AAhh hip hop iz getting fucked up iz fully commercialized
Hip Hop iz death coz you ain't got lotta rappers no more that put there whole feeling into it, A RAPPER WHO RAP FROM THE HART BUT STILL USING HIZ TEMPEL
today rappers want to get paid NOT fucking RAP FOR YOU

01-05-2007, 02:24 PM
HipHop is not dead mothafuckas..

01-05-2007, 02:28 PM
HipHop is not dead mothafuckas..

the youth are being fed what the media tells them is Hip Hop

alot of them have no respect for the founders and won't listen to those who have not gone platinum

so the future does not look too good for Hip Hop

the face and soul of it is being changed and the masses see it the way they see it

the small percent of People who know what Hip Hop is will be pushed so far down that we will eventually cease to exist - and even though we teach our youth Hip Hop, that large percent thats being molded right now, will choke them out

unless we make some big moves

01-05-2007, 02:31 PM
Well maybe because I see whats really going on and I am teaching my kids the good old shit..
they love the shit from the 80's
always want to see the videos.. they love breakdancing...
I mean.. they are not allowed to watch tv or that nonsense ..
I dont want them brainwashed at a early age.. but yes you are right
the music that is on the radio and on wack BET is poisening youths mind..therefore.. leading it too the true culture dying...

01-05-2007, 02:31 PM
I aint just waiting for hip hop to b gone
then I play a different game muthafucka

01-05-2007, 03:22 PM
Much appreciation and thank for the interview.

01-05-2007, 03:57 PM
Real Hip Hop Aint Dead It Just Aint Mainstream Yeah U Have A Few Hip Hopers Who Kinda Are Mainstream But Most The Good Shit Aint

01-06-2007, 02:40 AM
look at how Hip Hop is being taught to some


01-07-2007, 04:30 PM
I think most people just listen for a dope beat & a catchy hook only true hiphop head examine every word a nigga says....... but thats just my opinion

co-sign. I must add that most kids just wanna hear some murder pimp shit these days. They can't sit and listen to a song with depth or meaning or any kind of variation from the gangster shit. And honestly, the kids that are like that usually know nothing of "gangsterism". To them, the illest movies are always mob flicks and the illest songs are always murder shit even though they're soft as hell at heart. Honestly, I'm thinking of a certain kid I know that is the perfect example but I notice this trend in most kids. I appreciate anything unique, regardless of subject matter.

12-09-2011, 11:57 PM

Fatal Guillotine
04-20-2012, 10:35 AM
the sad thing is this youngster dont take the time out to educated themselves on rakim, leaders of the new school. some people accepted what given to them rather then seek out these acts or rappers if you will...sad thing is i met a young brother recently who actually told me he didnt know who Rakim was

Mumm Ra
04-20-2012, 11:22 AM
awesome interview
i especially liked the part about James Brown The Christ. im all kinds of down with that shit.

the face and SOUL of it is being changed
that's the saddest part to me. there is no soul in it anymore. i used to catch so many ill feelings, vibes, moods and thoughts from hip hop - shit that might change whole perspectives on aspects of life (and that might just be from a beat!) -
now its the equivalent to catching a sugar buzz. they dont know what hip hop is capable of anymore.

04-21-2012, 01:02 PM
Nas was right when he said hip hop is dead. It's been dead for a long time because the 80's and 90's good rappers are old now and these new rappers have no skills at all and they only care about getting paid so they can get some cars, jewelry, women. Even the 90's good rappers that are still doing music aren't doing good music anymore.

Fatal Guillotine
04-21-2012, 01:23 PM

04-21-2012, 01:29 PM
I saw that footage of Rakim before. He speaks the truth and ya'll should also check out Ghostface Killah giving his opinion about why rap sucks now on RealTalkNY.net on Youtube. The stuff he was saying had me laughing. He said these new rappers don't know about the rappers that came before them and he said when you don't know the history of rap, you don't know shit LOL. He said the radio dj's don't make the situation no better because they play wack shit. He said when good rappers ask them why they play wack shit, they say the people are requesting it. He said the people wouldn't be requesting shit if you didn't play it LOL. He said everybody on BET's 106 and Park tv show is all little dudes and they don't know what good rap is hahahahahahahahaha. DJ Premier of Gang Starr made a good point about why rap sucks too on a skit on Gang Starr's The Ownerz album when he said all you dj's are letting the program directors handcuff you and sit there and tell you how to mix. You fucking robots LOL. Fuck ya'll LOL. He also said what the fuck is this shit ya'll are listening to on the radio man? You call that shit hip hop? That's some faggot bitch shit ya'll are listening to hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Fatal Guillotine
04-21-2012, 02:22 PM
i honestly dont think it'll never be the same

04-21-2012, 02:29 PM
I agree. I don't think rap is gonna be good in the next 20 years if it lasts that long LOL.

Dr. Simon Hurt
04-21-2012, 03:02 PM
awesome interview
i especially liked the part about James Brown The Christ. im all kinds of down with that shit.

that's the saddest part to me. there is no soul in it anymore. i used to catch so many ill feelings, vibes, moods and thoughts from hip hop - shit that might change whole perspectives on aspects of life (and that might just be from a beat!) -
now its the equivalent to catching a sugar buzz. they dont know what hip hop is capable of anymore.
this is so true...i can't remember the last hiphop song that gave me chills, either because it was something deep, emotional, or thought-provoking or just made you feel good.

Fatal Guillotine
04-21-2012, 03:07 PM
dudes are doing it for a quick buy out (if that). what's even more sad is how certain dj contributed to payola ( i think nas spoke on this w/ the situation with flex & angie martinez)

04-21-2012, 03:17 PM
Well i blame the record companies for signing wack rappers because record companies are only interested in making money. Willie D of the Geto Boys said on his Unbreakable song, the fans ain't even buying the records for content. They buying images and what they see is what they get LOL.

04-21-2012, 04:08 PM
Stop worrying about wack shit and support the small amount of good shit

Fatal Guillotine
04-21-2012, 04:25 PM