Remember the day
remember the play
remember the way we used to say
dee dee dee da di dee dee dee dee da di dayyy
It must be amazing to look at the world from the perspective of KRS-One:
This was a man who was homeless, living in shelters in the late 70s. Living hand-to-mouth and self-educating as a black man in the South Bronx.
In the 80s he would meet Scott ‘LaRock’ Sterling and start building a discography that now easily dwarfs any artist in the history of the genre. Also to this ‘music’ he was the primary intellectual consciousness for two schools of the artform, gangsta rap and so-called conscious rap. Essentially the ‘style/sensibility’ godfather to both Jay-Z, Biggie, 50 Cent, Snoop AND Common, Mos Def, The Roots, Lupe etc. When Obama was brushing his shoulders off on the way to becoming President, KRS-One was tagged on the side of the podium in a fat marker—”We Will Be Here Forever”
In the 90s as a former self-educated south bronx black dude, he would begin teaching and lecturing at Ivy League universities. This was also his most commercially successful period. By the late 90s he was, essentially, an Ivy League iniversity professor doing songs with Puffy and Angie Martinez. Step Into a World can get a party started in your office right now.
[a serious, skilled rapper now giving lectures at Yale would be like what? a stripper being married to the president? i think its easy to underestimate how singularly ridiculous this accomplishment is with how we view rappers today]
Hip hop is now arguably the most influential cultural movement of the last fifty years (just to throw out a number). Artists and bloggers can debate this, but how many have them will have created a school and charter ultimately sanctioned by the United Nations to advance their argument. (Also at this time: still recording, and actively destroying then-popular artists (cf. Nelly) who were sneering at him while chained to a system he was trying to help free them from.)
Last week was Hip Hop Appreciation week, which I didn’t see getting much play. But maybe I was looking in the wrong spots. Still, I think the point holds: it must be amazing to look at the world from his perspective. A guy still grinding, fighting for publicity and people’s attention despite a historically unprecedented resume. Maybe that’s the whole rub of it all. How would you celebrate someone who’s part Dylan, part Joseph Campbell, part Ice-T.
Last year KRS put out a bible, it got a little press. But it’s a legitimate crack at a religion that one-ups Christianity, Islam, Judaism. Call him a wacky Black L Ron Hubbard if you must, but he wrote the book after already imbuing the culture with the spirit of hip hop. Writing his “Dianetics” is just another bullet point on the resume. It would fall near the bottom of a top 10 list of his accomplishments. The ones we can actually see now.
Whether he gets it or not this is hip hop’s first Nobel Prize winner. And of course, as anyone who’s encountered him or seen him live knows — it’s all legit, he’s a force of nature. And here he walks around and people would rather talk to Paris Hilton. Or to be less snarky or 2005 about it, Lady Gaga. I love Gaga’s intellectual/conceptual pretense. But Bible, United Nations charter, 20-ish album longevity, from homelessness in the 70s south bronx? He’s only 44. I want a KRS sex tape and i want it now!
KRS should roll off the tongue like Oprah or Jay-Z, easy. He’s a correction in the market waiting to happen. Want a cultural stock tip?: Buy KRS1.
(song’s called “I Remember” off “Prophets vs. Profits”)