KRS One born Lawrence “Krishna” Parker became a music artist, philosopher, activist, author, poet, and inspiration. He was undoubtedly an inspiration to me. KRS One debuted before my time, or more accurately, he released his first album when I was two years old. For the first 17 years of my life, I had no idea who KRS One was. Little did I know that he would become a driving influence upon my life. This man has been a consistently positive force in Hip Hop from his debut in 1987 to his current release in 2020. No other Hip Hop artist has a discography that can match the dedicated quality of KRS. Listen to any of his 24 plus albums. Not one album would be considered a flop. There is no filler material when it comes to KRS One.
KRS One is an acronym that stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone. He is also known as The Teacha. Born in New York, he went from being a homeless youth to a Hip Hop sensation. KRS One began his musical career with the group Boogie Down Productions while living in a homeless shelter. The group formed when KRS and his youth counselor, who went by the DJ moniker Scott La Rock joined forces. After releasing their debut album in 1987 titled Criminal Minded, Scott La Rock had been murdered in a fatal shooting meant for one of Scott’s friends. KRS vowed to carry on Boogie Down Productions in Scott La Rock’s memory. He went on to release another four albums through the group before deciding to begin his solo career. Scott La Rocks’ death is likely what inspired KRS to start the Stop The Violence Movement, which was his first public display of political activism besides his music.
KRS One went on to have a lengthy and stupendous solo career. He collaborated with R.E.M, Marley Marl, Sublime, Blondie, and more. As KRS progressed musically, his sound was considered more political in the general public’s ears. The highest position one of his songs would ever reach on the Billboard 200 would be #3. KRS became less concerned with commercial status and fame and more concerned with educating people. This Is why you won’t hear his music on the radio, and most kids nowadays have no idea who he is. He created his own teaching brand through music by combining education and entertainment, which he called “Edutainment.” In 1999 KRS took a position as the Vice President of A&R for Reprise Records, which Warner Music owned. He quickly realized this was not who he was and resigned from the post in 2001. In 2002 he released a gospel-rap album like no other titled Spiritual Minded. That gospel-rap album blew my mind, and I’m not even religious. After the release of that album, KRS founded an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving Hip Hop Culture called The Temple of Hip Hop.
Through his political views and his creation of The Temple of Hip Hop, many began calling KRS the Steward of Rap and The Hip Hop Historian because he was doing what no one else was for the genre. In 2009 KRS released his fourth book titled The Gospel of Hip Hop. I picked that book up around 2010, and to this day, it still teaches me so many life lessons and pearls of wisdom. That is one of my all-time most cherished books. The Gospel of Hip Hop and KRS One’s music helped shape my mentality and outlook on life. I am a much better human being for having his influence. He inspired me to be a philosopher, activist, and artist in my own right. I could write an entire post simply on everything I have learned from KRS One, maybe another time.
If you don’t know KRS One, then you don’t know Hip Hop music. KRS has been the constant in Hip Hop from the late 1980s to his recent 2020 release of Between Da Protests. Even if you are not a fan of Hip Hop, KRS One is the one universal artist that I would always recommend. How could you not be inspired by a homeless young man who made history and his dreams come true. This is the man that inspired artists such as Tupac Shakur and Eminem, among countless others. Just to drop a small gem of knowledge on you, Hip Hop is not Rap. Hip Hop is the culture, while rapping is an action. “Rap is something you do; Hip Hop is something you live.” And that barely scratches the surface.
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