KRS-One – Judgement Day

THE TEACHA INTRODUCES RIP NICHOLSON TO HIS SCHOOL OF HIP HOP.

KRS-ONE interviewed @ 08:45 AEST – Saturday 4th February, 2012
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press

Words by RIP NICHOLSON
Images courtesy of David Geraghty

Oprah visited down under, even Queen Elizabeth and her grandson Prince William walked our red carpets last year. Now we wait, firmly held in 2012 for the inaugural visit of hip hop’s leading protagonist, acting strictly for the cause and survival of a culture. KRS-One, (born Lawrence Parker) is poised in San Francisco to board a boat and head for our golden shores. Afraid of flying, Parker will take the month-long trip down under with an agenda to inject knowledge into our our hip hop culture with a “booster shot.” Following some stringent protocol to get him in session, Parker lets loose over 50 minutes with a booming authority over his words. Holding a genuine concern for the upkeep of his culture, Parker lays out an economic model for the survival of Australia’s hip hop scene in today’s new world, which he believes finds the balance of power shifted in favour of it’s forebearers and creative souls who maintain the culture’s equilibrium behind it’s commerce.

Charting a takeover, Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone (KRS-One) sets sail to arm us in readiness for the new world. “I’ve waited a long time for this. There is a couple of places I’m trying to go to over the next three years. And Australia is just one of them that I’ve been trying to get to for a many years,” admits Parker, who explains the trouble he had with promoters not understanding the goals of his touring plans and treating hip hop’s most active ambassador as an artist only. “There has always been challenges, so when i come to a place i don’t just want to come to the place, perform and leave. I don’t like flying into a country, flying over a country. Beyond that, go straight to the hotel from the airport and to the venue and to the hotel and to the airport and then say ‘OK, I’ve been to Australia.’ That’s not my style at all so i waited it out.”

Since it’s inception over 30 years back, real hip hop has been held in the hands of a certain few originators, from Kool Herc to Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation and into the hands of the philosophical practitioner KRS-One, who has embodied the true elements of hip hop his whole career. Starting as a graf artist and homeless, in and out of shelters in The Bronx during hip hop’s burgeoning years, KRS-One and his Boogie Down Productions outfit invited sharp, young and militant-minded souls to develop new ways of thinking, empowering them with the strength of knowledge. From their seminal 1987 debut, Criminal Minded to the 1989, Stop The Violence Movement campaign following the murder of his DJ, Scott La Rock, to his staunch Malcolm X window pose on the cover of their follow-up, KRS-One has always taken the lead on strong arming hip hop into a set of principles and way of life.

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Never shying from setting suckers straight, Parker has earned his highly-influential position as hip hop’s chief spokesman and as such has made it his endeavour to widen the acceptance of hip hop and all it’s encompassing elements and educate the next generation. “I’m coming to teach hip hop. straight up and down. When i mean hip hop, i mean the culture of hip hop – the breaking, MCing, the graffiti, beat-boxing, street fashion, language, knowledge and trade skills. Not just rap music, we’re bringing a full curriculum to Australia. There is knowledge in hip hop that Australia needs to know going into these next few years and i find it very important to get this survival knowledge out there; Knowledge on how to take hip hop beyond the commercial level that’s coming out now.

“So if we consider that hip hop is not a physical thing – and more a meta-physical principle – then we can learn to adapt to our environment and factually we can derive our philosophy from our surroundings. That’s what i plan to teach Australia too, the tool of mastering the magical uses of hip hop around you. How to really alter your reality with this technique in that sense. This takes the art beyond the entertainment value,” hints Parker.

“I’m coming to teach hip-hop. Straight up and down. When I mean hip-hop, I mean the culture of hip-hop – the breaking, MCing, the graffiti, beatboxing, street fashion, language, knowledge and trade skills. Not just the rap music, we’re bringing a full curriculum to Australia.”

He is keen to address Melbourne University’s hip hop lectures and “offer them the official curriculum. That is our mission professionally – to organise hip hop for real for real in Australia while I’m there. And, hopefully stay there,” Parker states. “Teach hip hop to any nation, any country or any group of people like Australia, like China, or Japan and it’s going to take like three to five years to actually teach the course. And you can see results within the first two years. I won’t get into specifics but you see real progress building in the first year or so and Australia deserves it.

”There are some creative and brilliant minds are coming up on the perimeter of Australia’s hip hop right now, but might become side-tracked by the commercial presentation of hip hop. And if it takes one of us to come forward, then I’m always down,” Parker states as he counts in the importance of hip hop’s forefathers. “When i say one of us, i mean Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Crazy Legs, Taki 183, Grandmaster Caz, Busy B andThe Cold Crush. These are scholars on hip hop straight up and down. These are the people that created the actual culture and these are the ingredients, the secret knowledge to how hip hop was created and this is what Australia needs to know before i leave there.”

But alas, it won’t be all war talk, the extra curricular on the itinerary will find KRS-One practising what he is best known for. As his twentieth LP, 2012’s Just Like That, is ready to be added to the text book catalogue spanning over his 26 year career, his shows promise to incorporate the new work, the classics and some old fashioned throw downs with some of Australia’s premier MCs. “I’m looking for MCs. I’m the best in the world,” Parker calls out, who has long been heralded as the best freestyle MC in the world. “So when i land, you better be on your A game Australia; I’m not playing. I’m not here to rap for half an hour and record a little video. You’re gonna get two-hour sets, no doubt. Freestyles all day. I’m there to show Australia what hip hop is. This is judgement day right here. All them DJs that play wack, rap music that you’ callin’ hip hop – I’m callin’ them out! They better not show me they playlist or ask me to be on their radio show. If they keep playing that nonsense that we are so sick of hearing you’re not gonna get much from KRS-One. You are gonna get a reprimanding, yes you are.”

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KRS One visits a street art tribute in Fitzroy. Picture: David Geraghty

BOOSTER SHOT

Hip hop in the 21st Century has taken leaps and bounds further into new fields of exposure. The digital age rolls out masses of independent artists who have found careers through the medium of online access. KRS-One takes the floor and instills a reality check on the new digitally-famous fiends of hip hop online and shares an alternate for international recognition, teaching Australian artists how to fish on their own.

“I believe the area of the digital domain is not real. So any time someone puts a record out online, you’re never going to be positively successful, you’re not going to make a mark on the thoughts of people. You might be able to make a mark in the minds of the people but the lasting ability of an artist is to move the soul of the people. The Internet doesn’t do that. The Internet gives you the information coming off of the creativity, but not the creativity itself. This requires real talent. The Internet is good for that too, because if you do have talent, you will be seen. On the other side – ‘You can see me on YouTube, now I’m a star.’ No you’re not. In fact you now have to go out on the road, touch people and create some sort of function to your light. Most of them are just lighting up. There’s no function to their light other than to satisfy their ego and their pride, that’s it. It doesn’t shine because there is no more love for what you’re doing anymore. And you’re not really gettin’ money.

“What Australia needs is a booster shot from somebody like myself. A booster shot where i come and you are the hot Australian MC putting work in for five years in the Melbourne scene. Now here comes KRS-One. I hit that 16 with you and you’re breaking your seal now. Now it’s only a perception. That’s all it really is. I’m an international artist, i come and do a record with a local artists and now he’s perceived to be international. So, what i do is i come to inspire. You are just as international as i am. Your talent is equal to my talent. i am not above you, i am standing next to you. That kind of inspiration starts entire industries.So, what Australia is getting is an original start of hip hop culture itself. I know the mechanics to it, the buttons to push and this culture opens up like you couldn’t imagine. It is such a magnificent way to live and to be hip hop. Most people don’t take it that seriously and that’s why they’re suffering.”

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Q & A with KRS-ONE

What would your main objective be on this auspicious trip down our way?

I’ve waited a long time for this. There is a couple of places I’m trying to go to over the next three years. And Australia is just one of them that I’ve been trying to get to for a many years. There has always been challenges, so when i come to a place i don’t just want to come to the place, perform and leave. I don’t like flying into a country, flying over a country. Beyond that, go straight to the hotel from the airport and to the venue and to the hotel and to the airport and then say ‘OK, I’ve been to Australia.’ That’s not my style at all so i waited it out. Promoters have been calling me over the last 10 years, people been calling. Some called but the money wasn’t right, others called and the transportation wasn’t right. Others called but there was opening acts on the bill that i didn’t agree with. So now i have a great promoter and he suggested i get over here by sea. So when i realised we can sail from San Francisco, California to Sydney, Australia i was ecstatic to be able to get this opportunity and this is how the tour all starts. That’s the personal reason as to why it’s happening now, in that sense. This promoter that I’m dealing with is pandering to KRS One and the way KRS One would like to come to Australia. Other promoters were telling me how to come to Australia. This certain promoter is assisting me in coming to Australia. That’s the more personal reason.

Professionally, I’m coming to Australia to teach hip hop. straight up and down. When i mean hip hop i mean the culture of hip hop, the breaking, MCing, the graffiti, beat-boxing, street fashion, language, knowledge and trade skills. Not just rap music, we’re bringing a full curriculum to Australia. There is knowledge in hip hop that Australia needs to know going into these next few years. It is very important that we get this survival knowledge out there. Knowledge on how to take hip hop beyond the commercial level that’s coming out now. It takes it beyond the entertainment value and really learn how to live the culture. I think it’s Melbourne University that is teaching hip hop as well. I’d like to go there and offer them the official curriculum. We don’t just drop that on anyone. Only for those who are dedicated to the movement and is trying to preserve something and teaches in some sort of a way. This is what I’m looking for and I’m coming there for them. That is our mission professionally – organise hip hop for real for real in Australia while I’m there. And, hopefully stay there. that’s the third reason, i wanna stay there for a while. Teach hip hop to any nation, any country or any group of people like Australia, like China, or Japan and it’s going to take like 3 to 5 years to actually teach the course. And you can see results within the first year – two years. I won’t get into specific results but you see real progress building in the first year or so and Australia deserves it, straight up and down.

I went into my records from 1997 when i put out the album I Got Next there was a questionnaire and registration for the Temple of Hip Hop on the album sleeve and i had a bout 65 Australians that signed up to the Temple of Hip Hop. I pulled out all of there files from 1997 and i’m bringing them with me. i’m putting runners out, special letters out so they can meet me in person, have a dinner something more private. I really hope that i can stay there longer.

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How long do you plan on staying in Australia?

Indefinitely. I’ll live anywhere, it doesn’t matter. as long as Australia will have me i will stay. we’ll see when i get there. Right now we’re speaking completely out of context. When i actually land and really start visiting some places and teaching the hood out there how to survive, you don’t have to be a gangster, criminal, pimp or hoe. Intelligence is not a corny thing. These are substances that you must now have. There are some creative and brilliant minds coming out of Australia right now, but might become side-tracked by the commercial presentation of hip hop. These brilliant and creative minds that are coming up on the perimeter of the culture of hip hop.  and its one of us not coming forward. When i say one of us i mean Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Crazy Legs, Def Fresh, Grandmaster Caz, Busy B and the Cold Crush. These are scholars on hip hop straight up and down. Not all of them teach, not all of them write books, but these are the people that created the actual culture. These are the ingredients, the secret knowledge to how hip hop was created and this is what Australia needs to know before i leave there.

Australia has always been a huge supporter of KRS One from the first time i came out with my album Criminal Minded, Australia has been on my back for all these years. There are other countries, for instance;  Europe was easier for us to get to – quick boat ride, 6 days and I’m there. I went to Southhampton, England and taught there. That was a phenomenal experience. We taught at Oxford University and established a few societies there. The only issue though is that England is so far behind culturally. Highly technical like everybody else in the world but they still struggle with crack cocaine. When i was there in 2010 they were just getting crack cocaine. So, us in the United States were well aware of what crack was (laughs) like, during the 80’s. It was funny for us to go to London and on a radio station the DJ was saying’ We just got crack cocaine hitting the streets!’ I was like, ‘wait a minute – crack? you guys are smoking crack? Thousands have already died from this, where have you been London?’ They have these regional issues also and it’s fucking up the minds of young people. And uh, not on my watch. Not on my watch. Hip hop is not a frivolous, irresponsible favourite pastime. That’s not what we are. I’m quite sure there are people in Australia who believe that, and there’s a mainstream oppressing our people there as well. I’m quite sure there are activists that could use a KRS One hand right now. When i land I’m not there to do MTV, nothing mainstream at all. I plan to be active with the people and those activists. When an American artists comes down under and act like they the President, like you can’t go near them. Their fans go to the shows and can’t ever really meet them. Can’t break bread with ‘em, spit a 16 with ‘em, can’t do nothing. That’s all bullshit. I’m there to end all that. When i land, I’m landing amongst the people.

Now I’m looking for MCs, your most talented ones. I’m the best in the world. So when i land, you better be on your A game Australia, I’m not playing. I’m not here to rap for half an hour and record a little video. You’re gonna get 2 two-hour sets, no doubt. Freestyles all day. I’m there to show Australia what hip hop is. And inspire further, the dudes that’s already been holding hip hop, waiting for KRS One to land so they can go ‘look at that! i told you! i told you!’ and that’s what they need, that’s what culture is. Sure the mainstream guy came around, he did his thang and then left. This group came, everybody bragged about it and then left without a word. Real hip hop heads would look at that and think ‘that’s wack. That’s garbage, wait till my guys get there, guys on my list. I’m on that list. This is judgement day right here. All them DJs that play wack, rap music that you’ callin’ hip hop – I’m callin’ them out! They better not show me they playlist or ask me to be on their radio show. If they keep playing that nonsense that we are so sick of hearing you’re not gonna get much from KRS One. You are gonna get a reprimanding, yes you are. Like i said before, there are people there in Australia that believe like Americans, like others around the world how hip hop ain’t nothin’ special, this is just some old bullshit that you can toy with, like you can dress your hat to the side, throw on some Wallabies and wear a jumpsuit. That shit don’t play, just looking the part. We already had our meeting in the US. Don’t nothing go down in hip hop without us sanctioning it. When I mean ‘us’ I mean, Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Flash, the originators of the culture. We are united and as a matter of fact i come on behalf of them.

I don’t know if you heard about the unification of the founder? About 9 months ago an investment group tried to erect a hip hop museum. We had to shut that down right quick but that also led us to form our own alliance. ‘You’re tryin’ to start hip hop history without us?’ They tried to put the mainstream rap artists up as the history of hip hop and Afrika Bambaataa was the one who said, ‘no, this can’t go down!’ and tried to have them disband. So they said, ‘well, we’re gonna do it anyway.’ That’s when i stepped up and went to their party and shut it down physically. That happened about 9 months ago and now the movement is even bigger because more young people are saying, ‘why aren’t we hearing more of Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, X Clan, why are they turning down Lupe Fiasco? Why aren’t hearing some Dead Prez, what’s up with these hustlers? Why are we only gettin’ one side of this thing called rap music? Now young people are waking up and seeing what’s goin’ on. ‘I’m 25 i just got a new baby, new wife, new job i don’t have time to hear this ‘shake your booty on the floor.’ how can i listen to that and call it rap, or even hip hop?’ Knowing the work Run DMC laid down for us, knowing the work that Cold Crush (Crew) laid down and the (Grandmaster Flash and the) Furious Five showed and knowing what real hip hop actually is. Now, the real judgement day is here. To make a long storey short, that’s the reasons why I’m coming to Australia, for all of these reasons.

What are your thoughts on 1520 Sedgwick Ave saved from being demolished and stands as the birthplace of hip hop –  is this a small gesture or a step in the right direction for acknowledgement of the culture?

Well it’s both. It’s a huge step but in a small way. It’s not the be-all and end-all. It was a great victory actually, Kool Herc fought for 1520 Sedgwick Ave to become a landmark and the City agreed, but it was also from the lobbying of a guy named Rubin Diaz who was the Bronx borough President. He comes up really under Herc, Bam, he gave me a street in the Bronx, this was before he was borough Present, he was a congressman and was heavily into hip hop programs in public schools. When he ran for borough President he won hands down. So he went ahead and made 1520 Sedgwick a landmark. That’s the leaders of hip hop doing it for themselves. This was not from outsiders who didn’t understand what they were doing. The whole city understood, in that sense. New York is very aware of what hip hop is and where it started, but New York doesn’t respect hip hop like that. The people do. Government, business,  commerce and even science and education – these institutions do not respect hip hop in New York.  There’s no reason either. It’s not like we’re some evil cult who brings no good to society. Basically, they’re ignorant and their time is up, as a matter of fact.

So i say that is more than just a gesture but it isn’t that big because we’re independent, we’re moving on our own and manipulating government agencies in our favour in a small way, finally. Small move though, because what does this really mean? Hip hop began in all kinds of areas in the Bronx and throughout New York and also i would say, throughout the world because we no longer recognise hip hop as a physical thing – well we never recognised it as a physical thing but now that too is official. But hip hop is not a physical thing, it is meta-physical principle actually. And factually we derive our philosophy from our surroundings. That’s what i plan to teach Australia too, the tool of mastering the magical uses of hip hop around you. How to really alter your reality with this technique in that sense. This is what we never sold to the mainstream. It’s a small step in that sense but a huge one in the sense of independence.

With the US industry so driven now, hip hop artists in Australia are still feeding off each other in a community devoid of big money contracts and intervening commercialism. Very independent and broke and hungry, artists across many international communities still hold true to the original principles that hip hop stood for 30 years ago… Through your travels as a hip hop voice and missionary for the cause, do you feel that power or energy still alive in other cultures?

That’s a tough question, that’s a tough one. The quick answer is yes, of course. (laughs) Without resource your resourcefulness tends to heighten. Your creativity goes up,  but that’s a catch 22 isn’t it? America is suffering creatively. Why? because everybody’s fat and rich.

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Does the digital age, a rapper can go online and get instant reaction. Has the digital era made the fight to be known in hip hop too easy?

No, i believe the area of the digital domain is not real. So any time someone puts a record out online, you’re never going to be positively successful, you’re not going to make a mark on the thoughts of people. You might be able to make a mark in the minds of the people but the lasting ability of an artist is to move the soul of the people. The Internet doesn’t do that. The Internet gives you the information coming off of the creativity, but not the creativity itself. This requires real talent. When a guy walks into the room the whole environment changes, that’s what makes someone a natural star. When they walk into the room, all eyes are on them. This is what will always rise to the top. The Internet is good for that too, because if you do have talent, you will be seen. Now you have to go to the other side of it, ‘you can see me on YouTube, now I’m a star.’ No you’re not. In fact you now have to go out on the road, touch people and create some sort of function to your light. Most of them are just lighting up. There’s no function to their light other than to satisfy their ego and their pride, that’s it. It doesn’t shine because there is no more love for what you’re doing anymore. And you’re not really gettin’ money. On the street level I’m eager to hear about what you said about artists are hungry in Australia. Selling their music on the streets. I’m with that. As a matter of fact all we need is a little organisation and we’ll start a whole new industry.

All Australian artists and heads that participate in the practise of hip hop are my people. The same concept is cultural. There’s something about everybody and every culture that has some brand of oppression. This is why cultures can’t unite and I’m quite sure Australia has their brand of oppression that holds them back. Why are artists struggling? Why can’t MCs and DJs get the light of day? Why aren’t we listening to more Australian artists here in the United States? Why are we not seeing more interaction and interchange between Australian artists and others? That may take some leadership, unity, that can now happen. we’re older, we’re more mature, we’re richer, we’re more intelligent. Now we can organise ourselves the way we envisioned when we were younger. That’s what excites me about Australia, is that those people there are still vibrant, still resilient, still struggle to get what they need. When you write this i hope you quote that word for word. (laughs)

What Australia needs is a booster shot from somebody like myself. A booster shot where i come and you are the hot Australian MC in Melbourne, putting work in for 5 years in Melbourne and everybody knows you and you’re large there. You’re just chillin’ in Australia and you’re doing pretty good. Now here comes KRS One. I hit that 16 with you and you’re breaking your seal now. Now it’s only a perception. That’s all it really is. I’m an international artist, i come and do a record with a local artists and now he’s perceived to be international. So what i do is i come to inspire. You are just as international as i am. Your talent is equal to my talent. i am not above you, i am standing next to you. That kind of inspiration starts entire industries. What Australia is getting is an original start of hip hop culture itself. I know the mechanics to it, the buttons to push and this culture opens up like you couldn’t imagine. It is such a magnificent way to live and to be hip hop. Most people don’t take it that seriously and that’s why they’re suffering.

We are far removed from the infinity lessons of the Zulu Nation movement, or visions of Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’ from a time when MCing made one quarter of hip hop’s encompassing elements, to 2012, where rap music is swallowing the art whole. If hip hop is now a billion dollar industry, what would be the new business model for its survival?

The business model is, and I’m not going to give away all the trade secrets here. You and i can talk privately over a glass of something.  But what you said about rap music swallowing hip hop whole. As far as the economic business model, that is it. Hip hop is indestructible it cant operate in the material world. Rap music is CDs, tapes, vinyl, even t-shirts and iPods and other medium that can produce rap music. There’s no way to buy hip hop. Hip hop is an idea and once you know the value of that idea, you, yourself instantly become valuable. What we have to look at is not hip hop being a billion dollar industry but how did it become that.  Industry was created by poor people that tried to survive. And it’s still being run by guys that are trying to survive. Russell Simmons is a poor guy, so is 50 Cent and so is Jay-Z. These people are poor compared to the world’s richest. We perceive them to be rich because we compare them to whatever our incomes are. But when you look at real economics, and I’ll stop here. When you look at our GDP (Gross Domestic Products) what is your country’s product and what is it worth. When you look at hip hop’s GDP, we are already one of the richest nations in the world. So, what is our GDP? breaking, graffiti, DJing, MCing, beatboxing, street fashion, street language, street knowledge and street entrepreneurialism. This is our Gross Domestic Products. This is what we put forward. Most of these products that we put forward are intellectual properties. There are things that you have to learn intellectually and then they affect your physiology in a certain way. This propels hip hop into a globalisation and into the new world order.

We say a lot about the new world order and globalisation, we really get interested in it, we fight for it, we speak against it, we rally against it because the horrors of it are incredible. You must speak up. But, globalisation is inevitable because humanity wants to unite anyway. Regardless of any corporate idea or lawful idea, which is infantile when compared to the powers of what humanity wants to achieve. And all humanity wants to unite, you ask anybody in the world if they want to see the end of war in the world, the end of domination, borders and controlling governments, everybody in the world would say ‘word! Hell yeah’ in their own languages. But then when you say, forget that! We’re gonna need one world government. We can’t achieve it like that, we’re gonna need a new world order. We will have to restructure the way we are living now. Whereas with one world government all governments cease to compete and we will be united nations.  So this is when people say ‘Oh no!’ hold up.’ This is when it becomes incredible. Now where does this leave hip hop, and i’ll stop here before i reveal more secrets. I’ll say, hip hop is immune to globalisation. Unlike other companies that operate regionally and geographically, their origins are regional and geographical. Those cultures will struggle in globalisation, not die out but struggle. And they will have challenges in the future. Cultures formed by positioning. Globalization is knocking out these cultures and they will be left to fight for their identity and independence as all humanity becomes one. But hip hop is immune to that ‘cuz hip hop is already global, it’s already been created by the mind and the spirit, not by regions.

Hip hop is not set in any one place right now, it’s in existence all over the world at once. It doesn’t have a location in that sense. So when you talk globalisation and you come back to economics, hip hop is a culture it has an intellectual product which matches the new economics of the age. We have to reach our culture to the rest of the world. This is how we are going to get rich. The other side to it, is that humanity wants to unite on it’s own. So that puts you on the fast track to where we’re riding the tide on the incoming wave of the new ways in which globalisation is thriving. We are so immune and protected from it  because we are already in the new world waiting for other cultures to develop for the new world. Hip hop is already in every military on Earth, and every urban culture on Earth, every educational institution on Earth, every medical institution, every law institution, every religious institution. You cannot walk to Earth and be ignorant to hip hop. You can’t call yourself a cosmopolitan person, a person aware of politics and social rights and not know hip hop. ten fifteen years ago you could get away with being a Governor or Mayor or politician and not know hip hop, but today, no. You’d be stupid. You’d look like you’re out of touch with working people because you don’t understand what Jay-Z is. If you’re not cool with Kanye West. If you don’t understand what hip hop is, the rest of the world won’t understand you.

So now, this leads us to the economic part. How do we get this money to the average people. well let’s look back at Zulu Nation back in 1974. What Afrika Bambaataa used to do with Jazzy Jay is he would do a jam or party outside in the park – 123 Park or Stevenson High School park, they would go out in the public for free, set up their equipment and play music. DJ Jazzy Jay would play the music well Afrika Bambaataa was handing out records. Sometimes Bam would get up but Jay was the MC. Jazzy Jay would make a tape of that party, so the music he played that day would get recorded and he would make copies on vinyl or cassette tape. Now the rules was this; Once Jazzy Jay made the tape he sold the tape to a bunch of b-boys and said anyone who wanted the tape, could for $10. Most people bought Jazzy Jay’s tapes because they were first generation tapes. He made the tape and dubbed you a copy.  His tape was considered the master tape. Everybody else had copies. So you wanted that clean first generation tape after he played his jams at the party. It was understood that when you bought the tape from Jazzy jay, you also had the rights to sell the tape. This is the economics that hip hop is missing. i don’t wanna give too much away but i’ll say this even further. Once you bought the tape you had the right to dub it and sell the tape the way they wanted, and the person that bought the tape also had the right to sell it the way he wanted. So it went on and on and on. So what happened was, the one Jazzy Jay tape actually fed an entire neighbourhood. Fed a neighbourhood. Jazzy Jay wasn’t no saviour but this was an economic Zulu Nation that was put aside for record company economics. Zulu Nation was originally, ‘ If i sell the tape to you, you can sell the tape to others and they can sell the tape on.’ This made people think creatively on how to sell the tapes. Anybody could sell the same tape. ‘Well i got bells and whistles on my tape’and sell it for a little more. This started an economy in the hood. We was taking money hand over fist selling our tapes. I remember when i put out Criminal Minded i was selling Criminal Minded on the corner of 132nd street and Bruckner Boulevards in the Bronx with pillows. i had a job hustling pillows. They were big loft style pillows and i was selling $30 to $50 a piece on these pillows and i had my Criminal Minded cassettes with me. Mind you, Criminal Minded was pressed and packaged the way it is today. I was still homeless when Criminal Minded came out, i was still on the streets so I was slanging the tapes at the same time. This is how people survived. So from Jazzy Jay’s tapes they started doing the same for guys like Kid Capri and other prominent DJs. This was a few years on but after a gig Kid Capri would get the original recordings and make his own mix copies and press like a hundred of them and sell them for $20 and come back with two G’s. So that was the basic business model, now bring that up to today.

Now what if, KRS One lands in Brisbane and i recorded an album called Strictly Brisbane and KRS records this album with Brisbane MCs and producers, their music and signers. We record this album and i give this album to all the artists that appeared on the album and give them the rights to sell the album. I give them the master copies. Now we’ve formed an economy, right here. Every artist has the out right to sell the album. And watch them compete over each other. (laughs) But some basic principles have to come into place before we even start this. But once we get the competition started, and I’m not big into competition in that way but that’s how economics works. It’s spurred on by innovative ideas and that usually brings  about competition. We see the economic plan and now imma spread this out even further. What if, every major rap artist that has more than 3 albums, if you a rap artist with more than 3 albums out make your next album free to the public, or your fans and of course Artists do this all the time but what they don’t do is tell their fans to sell their albums. They don’t sidestep the FBI copyright law. They don’t rewrite their own laws regarding their own creativity, that’s why we are broke as a culture. when we produce something you also are supposed to produce the law that gores with that something. But what we do is produce something and then give it  to a corporation that has it’s own laws that works against us. That has to stop. We have to begin to finance and give to ourselves, form our economy. now imagine if Eminem, 50, Snoop, Jay-Z, Kanye, Wayne, Drake and loads of others, all that together and said this super album featuring all of us and it’s free to every nation and distributed through, lets say in Australia you have a really tight Aboriginal community and say we’ll give this album the out right permission to sell the album and we do this same thing for Europe, go to France, go to England, go to Spain, go to Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Zimbabwe and give the hip hop only to these regions, give it only to their hip hop organisation that is struggling. You would start new business, a new economy and new executives. This is what we did with hip hop, this is how it started – trading amongst ourselves. It’s just that we got sidetracked when the corporate executives came into the game and started making his own money out the game and his economics ravished our economics because his was worldwide when ours was regional. Now, our economics is worldwide and his economics is regional and about to collapse. Some of them, like Universal can boast that they have worldwide distribution, but there’s no place for them to deliver their music physically anymore. That’s over. It’s wireless now and now that’s up for grabs. There’s a new paradigm as to how the economics is supposed to go down and this is a small piece of how hip hop can unite and form it’s own economy and right in Australia is where it could start.

Featured in Drum (Apr 3, 2012), Inpress (Mar 14, 2012)

KRS interview [Mar 12] cover

KRS interview [Mar 12]

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