Interview and words by Cheverly Council and Rebecca McDonald
Photos by B FRESH Photography
The vibe was live at Epic on Saturday night for the Stop the Violence Movement/Temple of hip hop show, with B-girls and boys out in full effect, a local hip hop lineup with over a dozen acts such as Illuminous 3, Lila T, and Ill Chemistry (Desdamona and Carnage), the Twin Cities Battle League, The Source Magazine's "Spit 16" battle, and hip hop heads old and new. It's safe to say, though, that most came out to get an earful of "The Teacha" KRS-One, who quietly passed through downtown but performed classics from "South Bronx" to "Sound of Da Police" with unmatchable thunder. He invited dancers to the stage to engage with him, as he yelled, "If you get your hip hop from the radio, step to the back!"
The show was reminiscent of local street ciphers spotted regularly on the streets of NYC back in the day, minus the rope-a-dope gold chains. It was grassroots, inclusive and down to earth - even KRS asked for tape of the show because he'd done a mic juggling freestyle that he had never done before, saying, "I hope y'all got that shit tonight. The two mics- I lost control. I was buggin'!...I gotta figure out how to do it again."
City Pages sat down with KRS One after the show to ask him a very important question (and we even got a peek at his new, controversial bible-formatted text, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, to be released in November, Hip Hop History month)... CP: What do you think is missing in hip-hop today?
KRS ONE: "I am not just saying this because you [a woman] are asking the question, this is my real answer: More women. More women. Not just emcees or b-girls, but women taking control of hip-hop. Let me be culturally-specific- hip-hop's women should teach hip-hop's men how to speak to them. Because when we learn how to speak to you, we can learn how to speak to the whole business world. It's not just about respecting you...it is...but it's deeper than just respecting another human being. Everytime you degrade a person, you degrade yourself, because you are standing next to that person. You can't diss a person, and not diss yourself...I should say 'she's a queen.' And what does that make me? A king. So now at the end of the day, what's missing in hip-hop? Knowledge of self, that should only come from women. I know that sounds feminist, but that's real talk.
CP: But men can be feminists, too.
KRS ONE: No doubt. But they are scared. They're cowards.
Although KRS One was the only artist who offered this particular answer, his sentiments were echoed by a local performer and emcee, O.S.P. AKA FidelHasFlow, who said that "Hip-hop is missing honesty and therefore lacks integrity. It's operating under a veil of stupidity."
Check out more information about KRS One's 818 page hip hop life-guide manual, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument" here. (VIDEO)