KRS-One Drops Knowledge At HBCU VSU (Video)

Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine Article/Video KRS-One

Article written By Andrew “D-Boogie” Smith

Video by Anthony Gilliam

It is Tuesday January 19th, 2016. On the perfect day, the day after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, at Virginia State University, which is a “historic black” college founded on March 6, 1882, a crowd of people gather to “see” and “hear” one of the most brilliant souls to ever exist, give an equally amazing, very detailed lecture that included topics like knowledge and self-awareness, the difference between BLACK history and African American history, education, and much, much more. His name is Lawrence “Krisna” Parker, better known as KRS- One.

Sarcastically he said in his own words, “The discussion I would like to have with all of you here is about an eight hour discussion, but I’m going to try to break it down to five.” “Some of what I’m about to tell you, you will not find in books or on the internet.” KRS proceeds to ask “What is knowledge?” “Knowledge is awareness, knowledge is not books, knowledge is not words, knowledge is awareness.” “Information and education is not awareness, education is training.” “In fact, American education is all about training you for the job market.” “Education is good, if you are on your way to employment.” “You can join some company or corporation and rise up in that, there is a lot going on over there, not looking down on it or nothing.” Then he proceeds to say something strong that I have been preaching for a long time, “You will never be rich if you have a job. You will never be wealthy employed. Only the entrepreneur, the self-educated, self-employed, self-reliant, are the people that move forward through all obstacles in life.”

He continues on to say “Most people rely on information over knowledge, whatever they are told they believe. The last thing they were told is where they are directing their entire life toward.” That is amazing to me. It struck me because he proceeded to say what I was thinking. “So if the last thing they were told was on the radio.” “Yo I’m standing on the block, blah blah…” “You direct your entire life toward that.” So to me, it makes me want to push even harder to bring back that positive vibe in hip hop, opposed to what is considered “hot” in the mainstream, which I guess is at least 85% composed of negative vibes. If we don’t, hip hop will continue to lose the positive power it had, and to a certain extent still has, to have a great influence on not only the culture, but the entire world. Think about it, hip hop is 100% worldwide now, so if 85% of hip hop was 100% positive, maybe the world would be a little better.

So now that we know the difference between knowledge, education, and information, let’s jump back in to the lecture. KRS later goes on to say “On top of information, education, and knowledge, there is intelligence.” “Intelligence is the ability to know, it is not knowing, it is the ability to know.” “Having the ability to know, is what makes you knowledgeable.” “If you have the ability to know something, you become aware, and once you become aware, you’re free.” I don’t know how you feel, but that is some good knowledge, that you more than likely won’t find in a book.

After giving a very detailed explanation of how we create our own different realities involving a plumber, electrician, and a painter, explaining how awareness and knowledge influences those realities, he goes on to say, or by now scream because he is so deeply entrenched in his word, that “In the United States, we say man black people got it hard in the U.S.” Then after a three second pause he says something brilliant. “Black people should expand their vocabulary.” “The more words we know, the more things, or realities, we are able to see.” “We are not trapped by our government, we are trapped by our own ignorance, and the minute we get past that, there is no threat in this world.” “African Americans sit at the very top of African existence in the world today, but we don’t think that, why? Because we don’t have words like Pan-Africanism, Neo-Colonialism, Imperialism, or Slavery in our vocabulary. These have to be regular words in your vocabulary for you to see it because human beings cannot see reality without words.” “So I start here with knowledge, knowledge is about awareness.”

“So we have this word, black history. Black is a word and history is a word.” “If black is not on your everyday vocabulary you’re not going to really see black struggle, you will hear about it, you will be angry, but you will always be objective to it.” “We say America more than black woman or Africa every day, so how can we even see?” “Through education, meaning the training, we have been desensitized to our own self” “So the education or training is to approach everything objectively and not subjectively, to not be part of what you are looking at, that is the colonizers approach to reality.”

Attending this lecture was probably one of the best decisions I have never made. Even though I have covered a lot of knowledge, I have barely scratched the surface of what he said, but you are in luck. If you want to see the entire video, just click play on the video at the top of the page.

 I think I speak for everyone when I say we must thank not only KRS for taking his time out to do this, but everyone that took part in helping to make this happen. VSU Mass Communication, VSU’s own radio station 91.3 WVST, Doug Evans and Rodney Stith of “The Soul Logistics Radio Show,” which if you have not checked out you need to. Also the brilliant queen Dr. Zoe Spencer, Chill Will, Anthony Gilliam for the video, and anyone else I forgot that helped put this together and make it work!

Peace,

D-Boogie

 

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HIP HOP FORUM INTERVIEW: SUPASTITION

Supastition 02Interviewed by Madeleine Byrne
Edited extract from an extended interview with the North Carolina emcee, to read the entire article go to www.madeleinebyrne.com

MB: With Gold Standard (Reform School Music/World Expo Records), it’s got various producers on it, but what really struck me was that it had a very confident sound; a very distinctive record compared maybe to some of your earlier releases; were you aiming to get a particular mood?

S: I’ve done a lot of releases and I really feel that with Gold Standard, well, it’s the one I can kind of boast and be proud of – for a lot of years, a lot of things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to, but with Gold Standard it is one of those records where everything came together. I had a plan to do a tour, of 70 plus shows and I started working with a producer by the name of Praise, so I had the fire under me.

MB: It’s really interesting you used the word confident, because the words I wrote down (when listening to it) were ‘straight, confident, consistent (and) unified’ – maybe compared to some of your other records. Were you inspired by any other particular hip-hop album when you were putting it together?

S: When I was putting it together, I was listening to a lot of albums that really strike me as inspirational like Little Brother’s The Listening; Blu and Exile’s Below the Heavens and the Brother Ali/Jake One record Mourning in America, Dreaming in Colour. One thing I like about them is that they all have a consistent vibe from beginning to end. I think out of my albums that fans like, like The Deadline it has a similar vibe, even though I’m working with different producers, I want a cohesive sound.

MB: I think it’s interesting you referred to The Deadline because that’s probably the other record that I’d compare Gold Standard to, where, you know the first track is completely, you know ‘I’m here; I’m ready to be heard’ that kind of thing.Supastition - IMG 19 by Methuzulah

You’ve talked about your interest in ‘concept albums’ before, would you say this is a concept album and if it is, in what way?

S: Yes, it’s a loose concept album, I wouldn’t say it’s a concept album in the sense in all songs pertaining to one particular subject, but for this record it is – Gold Standard just the title is saying that there are a lot of people in the music industry that basically brag and boast about a lot of things, but they have nothing to back it. With this record, I’m saying I’ve been here professionally since 2002 and after ten plus years in the industry I feel confident that speak about what I see. That’s why you have songs like ‘Gold Standard’ and ‘Know my Worth’. The concept behind it is, just be confident and proud of who you are. I’m not a twenty year old rapper any more, I’m confident and cool being a married man, a great father, a great friend and a dope rapper.

MB: (laughs) ok, and I think the track ‘Unorthodox’ wouldn’t you say it’s playing into this theme of providing a statement of who you are and what your history is, would you say that’s the key track for that?

S: Exactly, I definitely think ‘Unorthodox’ is a great example of that. ‘Unorthodox’ is one of those records where I say, critically I didn’t always the acclaim, you know when I release an album I already know they’re going to give this album a 3.5, because I really don’t have the name to get classic album rating, I don’t have promo behind me, but on that track I’m saying I don’t care if the critics understand me or not. I’m making records for the fans, you know.

MB: I understand that, but it does seem that things are shifting – Dr Dre has included you in his radio show, is that right?

S: Yes, he has a radio show that he does online where he plays different music and some people from Aftermath pick out the sound and the songs they play, so having Dr Dre include it and hearing that some of the people at Aftermath are big fans of the Gold Standard record, having people like Dr Dre and DJ Premier and Da Beatminerz supporting the record, it just makes you feel really, really confident and appreciated, you know. (..)

MB: The track that they played was ‘Know my Worth‘ right …

S: Right, ‘Know my Worth’

MB: This is a gorgeous track, isn’t it? You’re working with a female emcee, Boog Brown

S: Yes, that’s my home-girl, Boog Brown…

MB: She’s fantastic, I thought what she added to that track was not so much the lyrics, but the way she raps, is just phenomenal, isn’t it? Can you talk a little bit about her?

S: Boog Brown is a very, very dope emcee. She’s originally from Detroit, but she lives in Atlanta now. We’ve known each other for a while, I was a big supporter of her, early in her career, I just thought she was an incredible emcee – not just a female emcee, but an incredible emcee and I always tried to put people onto her music. (…)

MB: Okay, let’s go to the first track from the record that I heard, ‘Black Bodies’ … You’re originally from North Carolina, Greenville, is that correct?

S: Yes

MB: So as you know, there has been some horrific race-based violence both the police and a white supremacist in North and South Carolina recently, how do you personally feel when you see these kinds of things happening so close to where you come from?

S: The thing with me is it’s not anything new, cause growing up in the South, growing up in North Carolina, I remember in Greenville, North Carolina you used to see the Ku Klux Klan march through town, you know things like that. I was in school and white people would call me nigger, it’s just what you would see growing up, you’d go to a store in a small town and people wouldn’t want to serve us, or want us in the store; or we’d walk into a restaurant and everybody would look at us like we were crazy. (…)

So when I created ‘Black Bodies’ you know, I didn’t want to create a song because everybody else was doing a song, particularly I held my back and waited because I wanted things to die down and as we decided to release the song I realized it was always going to be relevant because these situations keep happening. There’s always an unarmed black person getting killed somewhere around the world. (…) You can go a lot deeper – look at the history of America, the judicial system, systematic oppression, it goes through a lot of different things.

MB: I definitely agree. But let’s slow it down a bit here, because what you said was really quite shocking before, you’re not so old, so when you’re talking about the Ku Klux Klan and the racism you experienced growing up, are we talking the 70s or the 80s, or?

S: This is the 80s – the mid to late 80s.

(…)

S: Once you look back, when you’re older and understand it, it amazes you. I can’t believe I witnessed and lived through all this stuff was still going on at that time. A lot of people think it ended in the 60s and the 70s, but all this goes a lot deeper than that.

“MB: The thing that is very interesting for me is your choice of the title ‘Black Bodies’ because it’s maybe the media, certainly the police and people in authority often see people of color as just being bodies, rather than being human. When you were thinking about that title, what ideas did you have when you chose that title for the track?

S: The inspiration is just like you said it’s the way people don’t see African-Americans as being people, a lot of times (white) Americans treat dogs and animals better than they treat African-Americans, they have more compassion for animals than us. And it’s something that I’ve noticed when you look the news and you see people dying in America they don’t show dead bodies laying on the ground, when they show countries in Europe and places like that they don’t show bodies on the ground, but when they show African nations and people dying and starving they show actual dead bodies, the people, it’s almost as if they are desensitized. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to call that track ‘Black Bodies’ because when you notice this, if you look at it a lot of times they have massacres in Africa, you’ll see it on the news, the bodies laying there. It’s like they’re being treated as if they’re less than human sometimes. They would never show – any massacre that happens in America, they never show dead bodies laying on the ground.”

S: I just wish people would have more compassion and like I said in the song, ‘Black Bodies’ these police officers, they not held to the same standard as the average guy, I mean people talk about black on black crime, when someone gets killed in the neighborhood, but these guys (the police) are not held to the same standard – they hold a position of service and so when we see this happen, it’s a big disappointment, I mean we think you’re supposed to be there to protect us, if we can’t trust you, who can we trust?

To read the full interview with Supastition, go to www.madeleinebyrne.com

 

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Hip Hop Forum Interview: Misterelle Part 1

misterelle2Interviewed by Madeleine Byrne

In the first of a three-part interview, talented Virginia MC Misterelle looks back on tracks in his catalogue. First up, ‘Are World’ (produced by Antagonist Dragonspit, and released back in 2013 on Misterelle’s Friday FUNclub mixtape).

‘Are World’ boosted Misterelle’s profile, while also garnering support from major industry players, such as All Def Digital (Russell Simmons’s multimedia company) and was included in Snoop Dogg’s Underground Heat, ultimately reaching the top ten.

Misterelle starts out by talking about the song’s unusual title ….

HHF: Let’s begin with the track name, ‘Are World’ it comes from your niece, right ..

M: Yeah, Jaqayla

HHF: What’s the significance of that title for you?

M: My niece, Jaqayla, she makes me a lot of artwork and stuff like this, when she was living with me. She is very smart and at that time she was like in third grade or something like that. She made me a poem called ‘Are World’ – spelled ‘A- R- E’ and in this poem she spoke about different animals in the world and plant life, she summed it up pretty nice. I thought it was very intricate. I was like, why are you spelling it like that and she was like I did it like that cause it looks pretty on paper, I guess. I was like, it does look better than ‘our world’. And then I was like, I’m going to make a song and I did the same thing she did in the poem, but I talked about my life and my world.

HHF: What you could say about the title is like, ‘Our world’ it belongs to us, we possess or own this world, but with ‘Are world’ it’s like the world is us. Does that make sense?

M: Right

HHF: Can you talk me through the lyrics, especially the second verse where it gets all broken up. That part of the track, the second verse, really impressed me when I heard it.

M: The first verse is how I was taught to believe the world is, by the OGs who brought me up. The first verse is me trying to project this way of living and then the second verse was more how I feel about those same things now. The first verse is how I was raised, and its 100 % factual. People don’t understand that in Richmond, my life was average… considering where I’m from – I’m from the North side of Richmond, Virginia. It was typical to grow up and be raised by people who have been in prison for ten years and then got out, and they raising you and we didn’t think it was anything different.

HHF: Is it kind of strange they’re people you respect and have relationships with, but also you know there’s this other world that they’re part of? Growing up in that environment do you have this kind of split going on all the time?

M: (pauses) It’s weird, like even now as an adult, you still can’t escape it really. You can kind of lay low and then hope that it don’t find you, but it never goes away. With the verses, it’s both sides of the coin: the first side is I’m with it, I don’t care what happen; police catch me, fuck it. The second verse is like, no… I don’t want to do that, it’s those contradictory things we all go through.

Television was the closest I got to the other side of the tracks, so the second verse I integrated a lot of things, like video games, M. Bison from Streetfighter and a lot of stuff everything we can relate to. In the first verse, not everybody can relate to this brute way of living; but the second verse I’m saying I was exposed to the same forms of entertainment on television and in fashion (as everybody else)like everybody wore Air force Ones and Jordans. But at the same time we were wearing Air force Ones and running from the police.

That’s the difference, we share the same things, but not the same experiences. It was like in the second verse I wanted to go more introspective. The first verse is exterior, this is what it looks like when you’re looking at it, like I’m not going anywhere near that but when you meet the person, which is me, you’re like, he’s not a rowdy person, he’s actually kind of together.

HHF: What I like about it is the way you’ve done it: the first verse is very factual – you’ve got ages, statements, it’s very straight and then in the second verse is much more psychological and complex. Also the sound of the sound of the production in the second verse is quite amazing It’s got this whole series of samples that come in, so what you’ve got there is an increased complexity, which is quite beautiful.

M: Right

HHF: What were you trying to achieve in terms of the sound?

M: I wanted it to sound very theatrical.

HHF: Okay

M: Cause Antagonist (producer Antagonist Dragonspit) and I never actually met in person, but we talked on the phone and talked about the state of hip-hop. He practically gave me the beat in good faith, like I can’t wait to hear what you do and when I sent it to him he was like, yeah pretty much what I thought you’d do …

People were really competing for the beat and I was like, no, you need to hand that over to me because I’m going to embody something with that. I’m not going just freestyle and all that I’m going to try and do something real with it, you know what I’m saying. He was like, you got it.

The sound quality, when you put the music to the lyrics and everything coincides, it’s basically like I just wanted to tell the narrative based on how the music sounds. The transition makes it heighten and then it comes down and then it climaxes again, it’s just like writing a musical score.

HHF: Totally. And there’s an amazing bass-line, I’m not sure if it’s a pure bass-line sample, or if he’s modified or changed the sound of it but it’s just extraordinary.

M: It is.

HHF: When you used that word theatrical, would it be appropriate then to think about it as if it were scenes in a play or something like this?

M: Like I can do it on Broadway or something and it’d make sense; cause the way I like to write I like to write from the memories burned in the back of my mind, the things that I remember most vividly. Most people like to write from a place that’s like, I’m going to get the ‘oohs and the ahhs’ and people are like, oh wow. I used to do that, that’s where I come from, you can hear traces of my ‘cleverness’ but at times I got to tell a narrative.

I didn’t want to do nothing fabricated. I wanted to make sure that people understood that this is my world, this is the world as I know it, the Richmond; for people from Richmond, Virginia this is what we are used to. Another person would look at it and go, ‘that’s horrific; that you were around machine-guns and all that stuff and we’re like, no it ain’t … That’s life.

It’s always kind of weird when cultures come together and we see you how other people live. They’re like I can’t imagine growing up like that, and we look at other people and we’re like I can’t imagine growing up like that (laughs).

What brings us together is the music and that’s why the music is important because when you tell that narrative and you do it from a true place, then somebody that has no way of knowing how this is like, they’re going to get walk-through that life as well and they’re like, okay if I was him, I probably would have felt the same.

 

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