KRS-One explains how Black people lost ownership of hip hop
(Credit: Alamy)


KRS-One explains how Black people lost ownership of hip hop

KRS-One was undoubtedly one of the first rappers who decided to use hip-hop as a medium for political activism. KRS-One (real name Lawrence Parker) significantly impacted the genre, first in his hometown of New York but then across the rest of America. 

Parker, born in Brooklyn to a Trinidadian father and an African-American mother, practically raised himself from the age of 16 and lived out of a homeless shelter in the Bronx for much of his teens. While living in the Bronx, the rapper was nicknamed ‘Krishna’ as he began to explore his spirituality, developing an intense curiosity about the Hare Krishna movement. 

KRS-One first entered hip hop as a graffiti artist, then transitioned into rap upon meeting DJ and producer Scott La Rock, together forming the group and label Boogie Down Productions (BDP). In 1987, they released their debut album, Criminal Minded. However, La Rock was shot later that year after entering a beef between a BDP member and a local Bronx gangster. KRS-One would quickly decide to pursue a solo career, although still partially under the moniker Boogie Down Productions.

KRS-One – which stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme One – has been involved in hip hop for a long time, and even before becoming a renowned rapper, was partaking in as well as observing the culture. As a politically-minded individual, it’s fair to say that the rapper knows a thing or two about the politics of the industry and is most definitely not afraid to speak out if he sees something wrong.

Reacting to the ongoing wrath and political controversy that has been stirred up by the likes of Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, KRS-One, in a short clip, explained why hip hop is in the predicament it is today and where the African-American community went wrong when it came to the cultivation of hip hop and its support of young talent. He explains that before any other race even got involved with hip-hop culture, Black people were already taking advantage of it in irresponsible ways. Speaking on his generation of rappers from the 1970s and 1980s whose parents experienced the ’60s, he stated: “We didn’t get the fame, we didn’t get the Grammy, but we got the soul”, referring to the principles and morals present in the black community 1960s and ’70s.

In the clip, KRS-One points to a specific moment in time that he believes was the start of hip hop’s downfall, and that was the foundation of Sugar Hill Rxecords. Elaborating, the rapper detailed: “What was wack about hip hop, the worst thing was 1979 Sugar Hill Records, the worst thing that ever happened to hip hop.”

He continued: “When Sugar Hill Records came out, a woman named Sylvia Robinson and her husband, Joey Robinson, they owned all of rap. If you can somehow fathom that in your head for a hot minute. There was one record label that had all the top rappers of the day on it, and no other company had that. Had we stuck together black people would not be in this situation!”

As the interview continued, KRS detailed his own experience on BDP as he disclosed: “These are older blacks ripping off the talent of younger blacks! Krs, Scott La Rock, Boogie Down Productions, B-boy Records. black men are taking advantage of young black talent. B-boy Records was owned by black people, older black men from the ’50s and ’60s! You would think after all we went through with civil rights, you see a young man coming up, he calls himself Knowledge Reigns Supreme! You not gonna dust him off and say ‘Yo young blood let me show you something let me protect you!”

Watch KRS-One speak on the fall of hip hop and how it failed to become profitable on a large scale to those who created it in the video below.