KRS-One Teaches the Science of Hiphop

If, beneath the outlaw scenarios, revolutionary slang and bootie calls, hiphop is about being rougher, tougher and just plain louder than the next person on the mike, Kris Parker is the ultimate player.As Bronx poet KRS-One, Parker's self-made hiphop mythology -- a mix of relentless self-promotion and raw skills -- is simply unmatched in rap music. A co-founder of the legendary Boogie Down Productions crew, the KRS-One reputation rests on a decade of proclaiming himself the finest and most intelligent MC hiphop has ever seen and confronting those, like pop tarts PM Dawn, who dare to disagree.He wrote the book on hiphop culture -- literally -- publishing the philosophical tract the Science Of Rap in 1995. And while throwing around contentious phrases like "I am hiphop" has understandably led some to suggest that KRS-One is simply Parker's ego run wild, few other MCs quote Francis Bacon and Run DMC in one breath.With each KRS-One record hailed -- loudest by Parker himself -- as a return to original hiphop, it's little surprise that his forthcoming I Got Next disc is being hyped as the record that will steer today's misguided music back to its raw roots.Yet while the record does contain some of KRS-One's most rugged moments and comes rammed with no-frills production and a reworking of Blondie's "Rapture," Parker's got bigger things on his mind these days.At a time when today's rap superstars often don't make it past age 25, let alone survive a decade in the game, hiphop's elder statesman is trying to gauge exactly where he fits in now. The album's title, a streetball challenge, should give a few clues.BRIGHTER DAYS"In my world, the title is a basketball term where you immediately challenge the winner," a booming Parker begins from his New Jersey bunker. "In the music world, I'm saying I Got Next. Conscious rap music is next up to be heard. After all of this death and murder, a brighter day is up next."It's also a personal thing. I truly believe that I'm guided supernaturally. There is an intellectual, scientific technique to making rap music, but it seems like I'm the only one who knows it. The album was originally called Just To Prove A Point -- KRS-One back in your face again with the real hiphop. The question is, can an elder artist do business with the new kids?"Of course I can. KRS-One could produce any record you hear in the top 10 of any format if I was given the freedom. The problem is that my image stagnates me. I love being KRS-One, but that legacy comes with certain restrictions that restrict my movement. I want people to be able to expand their art and consciousness. Otherwise, we're not going to be able to survive."It's that matter of survival, both his own and the music's, that Parker is most consumed by now. Enlisting the support of hiphop pillars like Afrika Bambaata and Kool Herc, as well as African-American intellectual giants Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West, Parker has taken the theorizing of his Science Of Rap text one step farther in hopes of finally living up to his nickname, the Teacher.His new Temple of Hiphop organization is on track to becoming a fully operational private school with a Manhattan campus offering college-level courses on the fundamentals of hiphop culture. So devoted is Parker to the cause that he's willing to stop making music for the foreseeable future to teach full-time."I'm dedicating my whole life to this," he says. "This school is geared to present hiphop culture to the world, both in its academic sense and its creative and artistic sense, and music's just a part of that."The plan is to create a legitimate hiphop philosophy, and then patent it so that people can't just use the word any way they feel. It's a scary thought, but it's also a lovely one. We're not looking to be the police of hiphop culture, but this is something that needs to be protected by knowledgeable people."That's just the beginning, and Parker means what he says. In "briefly" explaining the Temple's three tenets for economic and cultural autonomy, the garrulous rapper holds forth uninterrupted for half an hour, all the while recording the conversation and threatening to unleash his lawyers should anything be taken out of context. All in the good name of hiphop."We're going to create the hiphop bible," Parker says in all seriousness. "By the year 2000, we want to have interviewed every person on the planet who has said that they're part of hiphop culture, and from there develop hiphop's authoritative, mythological history. After that, we begin hiphop culture for real.CULTURAL ARBITERS"Once our bible is out, we won't recognize any other hiphop entity. You want to call yourself a hiphop artist, you go through us, and if you use hiphop out of context, we will sue you for defamation of cultural character."Of course," he adds, "when it's all said and done, you've got to rock the party. You can't be a government without the best army, so the Temple will have the dopest MCs and the illest DJs, and KRS-One is starting that now. I truly believe that my record is the best hiphop record out in the world today, and that's the level we have to be at. You want real hiphop, check for KRS-One. Everyone says that, but it's true."DISCOGRAPHY* 1997 I Got Next (Jive/BMG)* 1995 KRS-One (Jive)* 1993 Return Of The Boom Bap (Jive) with Boogie Down Productions* 1992 Sex And Violence (Jive)* 1991 Live Hardcore Worldwide (Jive)* 1990 Edutainment (Jive)* 1989 Ghetto Music: The Blueprint Of Hiphop (Jive)* 1988 By All Means Necessary (Jive)* 1987 Criminal Minded (B-Boy); Man And His Music (B-Boy)


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