When it comes to golden-age hip-hop, the iconic South Bronx artist KRS-One, standing for ‘Knowledge Reigns Supreme’ (KRS), is considered one of the forefathers of conscious rap music, one of New York’s most potent lyricists during the 1980s. The emcee (real name Lawrence Parker) was half of the duo BDP (Boogie Down Productions) alongside his late crewmate Scott La Rock and, accompanied by Rakim, changed the way musicians approach lyricism concerning creativity and complexity.
To this day, KRS is touring and performing worldwide due to his sheer honesty and realism concerning politics, the state of hip-hop and African-American culture. Parker is also a proud pan-Africanist, who, unlike many rappers, is interested and invested in the advancement of black people worldwide as opposed to the microcosm of the US.
KRS-One has previously admitted that he believes Europe respects the art form hip-hop more than the United States. In a 2013 interview with VLADTV, KRS-One revealed, “As you drive into Switzerland, all you see is graffiti art. Now the government here is not taking the graffiti down. You can tell the government there is lenient towards hip-hop. Towards its elements, breaking on the street, graffiti on the wall, people rapping. I can’t make money in America! Why am I not in Ohio? Because the political leadership of Ohio don’t respect me.”
He continued, “This is the way it’s been since the beginning when hip-hop first started. We had to leave America and come to Europe. To get any kind of respect, and it was after Europe was respecting us that’s when America said, ‘Oh, you mean something.’ We can’t get respect in the United States!” Continuing his onslaught of honesty and truth, when asked about the pitfalls of hip-hop, Parker unveiled, “What is wack about hip-hop?! 1979 Sugar Hill records!”
The Criminal Minded musician then proceeded to speak some home truths explaining, “Sugar Hill Records is the worst thing that ever happened to hip-hop! When Sugar Hill Records came out, a woman named Sylvia Robinson and her husband owned all of rap.
“If you can fathom that in your head,” he continued, “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 wouldn’t be where they are today. That’s $10 billion a year gone, thanks to Sugar Hill Records. All the best rappers, and they’re not even getting treated right.”
Listen to KRS-One talk about hip-hop below.