By KRS ONE progression I mean how KRS, Hip Hop legend, pioneer and innovator, the Teacha, progressed through his career, with various changes in style and approach. KRS is a mainstay in Hip Hop. He’s been on the scene since the mid-1980s. He’s like Chuck D, the Rolling Stones of Hip Hop.
By Mikamote (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s an appropriate jam to start off with. This one goes way back.
When KRS and Scott La Rock made Advance, they were already socially-conscious and politically relevant. KRS was already the Teacha.
KRS was a homeless philosopher and Scott La Rock was a college educated social worker and turn-tablist: That’s how they met: KRS, quite literally homeless, studying Hare Krishna philosophy, met Scott La Rock at the homeless shelter where La Rock worked. They started making music together and, of course, such music had to represent a social consciousness and political relevance.
Soon the music turned another direction but kept the same intelligent flavor. But it got rougher, got more gangsta. Still, it was saying something. It spoke directly to reality. And KRS was still concise and clear, still had the voice of a teacher.
You either get it or not. It’s art. Words strung together to reveal the lesson. It works on the front and back of your mind.
By Wade Grayson from Mississippi, United States (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Some thoughts are illegal. Radical. True.
Then KRS got more philosophical. Scott La Rock had been killed coming to the defense of a crew member and thereafter KRS carried on the torch. He kept it conscious, true, clear and intelligent.
And it didn’t stop there. Of course not. KRS stayed underground, hardcore, ghetto. He spoke directly to the mind, heart and environment of the ghetto.
KRS made it clear that his music had a foundation in education. That he was teaching. This seemed to reach a peak during the Golden Age/Era of Hip Hop when cultural consciousness had reached its own height in Hip Hop.
KRS soon began a critique of everything, like all conscious people do, including a critique of the supposedly conscious and the Hip Hop industry in general.
Then he went solo. One of the things that marked the early part of his solo career was a focus on the spiritual. While a good part of his solo work continued his political work, he also ventured into the subject matter that had always been important to his musical creations: The mind and heart.
By Luigi [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The constant thread in KRS’s work is how the mind, heart and environment work together or don’t work together. There is a wholeness to his work, work that encompasses everything and he has never been afraid to challenge the status quo no matter the form it takes: Whether it is the status quo of the social structure, the ghetto, the Hip Hop industry, KRS is going to question it; like all aware people do.
Featured image: Vince Viloria, Flickr. Some rights reserved.