KRS-1 and The Temple of Hip Hop – The Teacha and his students

KRS-1 and The Temple of Hip Hop – The Teacha and his students
“I am Hip Hop!” proudly proclaims KRS-1 at almost any occasion he has to speak. His undying passion for his craft is not unusual among musical talent. Only his craft is not music. It is Hip Hop. How do you separate the two? Hip Hop music is how most know Hip Hop. Yet, it is so much more. Hip Hop is a culture. Hip Hop is a way of life.

When the African-American population of this country was declared free through the abolition of slavery there was still very little freedom for that group out there. Education and some of the most basic rights were not available to them for generations after. After all, it was one group of white people fighting another group of white people (South vs. North). The ‘good’ guys won and slavery went away, but people weren’t quite ready for that change. There was no Spartacus-like uprising within the slave community itself. Jump from the year 1833 (Abolition of Slavery Act) to 1955. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on the bus. She is a woman, she is tired and she just wants to sit. With all the significance of that move, even Mrs. Parks admitted that she was simply exhausted and not attempting to change the world. 1960s brought everyone the power and the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. His ideas were brave and very pro-American. He wanted freedom and love for all, not only the white part of the population. Drastically different from Malcolm X, Mr. King carried the message of peace only. Regardless, his non-destructive methodologies resonated harshly in the communities of those days. White people still lacked the understanding and openness needed to accept people of different color as equals. Still, the ground was laid. The lower class African-Americans communities all over the country were no longer willing to just put up with the abuse. Changes begun to occur all over the country, slowly but inevitably.

Then the 70s came. There was a gangster from the Bronx who went to his homeland of Africa and came back enlightened. His name was Kevin Donovan, or better known to everyone as the alias he took later, Afrika Bambaataa. He started the Zulu Nation movement and didn’t just attempt to rewrite the laws but empowered his people in a way no other person has done before. He started the Nation of Hip Hop. Grafitti, b-boying, MCing, DJing were all crowned as a part of this nation. African-Americans all over the world got their own voice and it came from the United States of America, the city of New York, the borough of Bronx.

Another decade passed and a new artist came on the scene. ‘Boogie Down Productions’ own KRS-1. Some consider his ‘The Bridge Is Over’ as one of the very first and still the best examples of ‘beef’ in Hip Hop. Not to elaborate on the concept of MCs battling or ‘dissing’ each other in their rhymes, but ‘beef’ became a powerful weapon in the hands of a skillful Hip Hop artist.
Lawrence Parker was his name and struggle was his life. Spending years as a homeless teen and going through a stage of drug dealing, KRS-1 found the answer to his prayers in Hip Hop. His life path and his choices were mostly identical to almost any other kid from his social circles back then and often to these times. Even while homeless, Kris spent most of his time in the libraries acquiring knowledge. Rightfully it paid back to him. Turning his masterful art of MCing and his overall social awareness KRS became a symbol of Hip Hop himself. Now, in the new millennium, when he says “I am Hip Hop”, he knows it to be true. All the choices he made and all the obstacles he overcame led him to become that special symbol of Hip Hop.

Still, 20 years, 11 albums and numerous mixtapes later, KRS-1 wants to share Hip Hop with everyone. His still has the same dream. He wants more and more people to be able to say “I am Hip Hop!” with him. So he starts The Temple of Hip Hop. It is an educational movement targeted to spread his love for his culture to the world. Weekly meetings, workshops, concerts and more have become a part of this Temple with his help.

Still, don’t forget, KRS-1 is Hip Hop and he is a Hip Hop MC. Spreading his ideas is more important to him than achieving platinum status with record sales. Releasing his latest album this summer he comes to New York to perform as a part of The Temple of Hip Hop first and foremost.

Freddy Fox opened for him. This notorious MC actually did a diss to Rakim and got a lot of attention. One way or another Freddy’s certainly playing in the same league as Ra. Packing not only the house but also the stage he reminisced on what’s true and how it’s missing from the game now. Talking of when Hip Hop was more about being proud than about being on the radio he seemed to fit extremely well into the conscious theme of the night. Talking about being real, he seemed on the same page with the street movement. However talking about the use of the N word and how it will never stop he seemed to support of the most undignified and humiliating expressions in rap. Pledging allegiance to being underground he generated a lot of support from the crowd.

Chanel Live’s Hakim spit for a while attacking the Bush administration and playing with words oh, so masterfully. Associating all of Hip Hop with the anti-Bush movement he expressed the general sentiment on the scene. Not all was quite in that camp thou. Hakim took a stab at the commercial efforts of 50 cent and Puff, demonstrating them as Bush supporters. Whether all had agreed with his rather accurate views or not his MCing was at a highest level and his rhymes were filled with wit and superb and well-versed sarcasm.

Grandmaster Dee of Whodini graced the stage with his presence as well. Bringing the memories of the past he also brought a lot of support and respect from all.

Then KRS-1 himself got on stage. This was no 30 minute set. This was a full hour plus of everyone’s favorite Hip Hop master spreading his music and his spirit to the audience.
“Rap’s getting too angry,” he said. “We gotta respect our women!” he followed. “We gotta be smart.”
There were a lot of messages and ideas spread by Kris that day off of the stage both through his music and through just speaking his mind. His songs roared as always through the crowd, but reminded rather of street mixtapes than the Billboard 100 hits. Most of the time it felt like he was just freestyling. Reflecting on the Hip Hop history for the most part KRS offered catchy rhymes, witty hooks, funny slogans and of course a lot of uncut freestyle that made him famous. You think Kanye’s the voice of Hip Hop? Think again. Unfiltered almost anti-commercial words pouring through the mic in The Teacha’s hand were meant to connect with the people, not consumers.
Adding to the non- business minded theme of the night he spoke his mind: “F— 97!” No doubt, 105’s Red Alert had no disagreements, chilling by the DJ table.
Kid Capri you’re on the spot
KRS is giving you Hip Hop!”
And the freestyling session continued with Capri spitting.
BCC’s Buckshot and the recently reunited EPMD’s DJ Scratch were in full effect as well.

KRS-1 is not a top 100 artist. His music is not in rotation on the radio and he does not advertise cognac or sneakers on the pages of VIBE magazine. He considers himself a teacher and he is just that. His behavior does not always manifest itself in the most approachable manner either. His abrasive nature, impulsive personality and inflexible views may set some people back. Yet, it comes from a good place. It comes from his love for all. It comes from the culture itself. It comes from Hip Hop. One more night of KRS-1 and The Temple of Hip Hop proved it once again.
Departing, Kris got behind the wheel of his own Escalade and drove off leaving a memorable evening and a crowd of faithful fans behind.

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