The Cultural Revolution, Through the Hip-Hop Wisdom of KRS One
"A lot of us here think that hip-hop is rap music!" said legendary hip-hop pioneer KRS One Tuesday to a crowd gathered in front of the SMC Clocktower. "But rap is something we do. Hip-hop is something we live."
The speaking engagement was part of a series of festivities and performances dedicated to celebrate Black History Month. Titled "The History of Hip Hop: The Soundtrack to Social Justice," the event featured beats and songs spun by DJ Undefined, who managed to throw in rap favorites as well as an eclectic mix of hip-hop samples and beats perfect for free- styling.
KRS One's appearance was part motivational speech, and part performance. With an animated and passionate voice, the rapper began by going into the fundamental elements of the cultural and musical voice known as hip-hop. KRS One's theme that was laced throughout the entire event was the courage to be yourself. He mentioned that hip-hop only exists as we know it today because a group of young men in the '70s in New York had the courage, motivation and power to reject the status quo, and live their lives for them.
"Don't wait for someone else to tell you what to be. Just go out and be it, and face the consequences of being who you really are," he said.
Hip-hop is a cultural revolution that is 30 years in the making. It has generated over $30 billion in sales of music, clothes, shoes, apparel, movies and books. "Hip-hop is unstoppable. Hip-hop fashion IS fashion," KRS One said.
The rapper went on to give anecdotes on how in the Bronx in the 1970s, the clothes we all wear today didn't exist. There were no baggy jeans, sports jumpsuits, or Adidas sneakers. There was no Bling Bling. The people who began not only a fashion revolution, but a worldwide musical and cultural revolution had to step up from being just outcasts, to being themselves.
KRS One moved into a more spiritual and metaphysical subject matter towards the end of his speech. "Hip-hop has a spiritual nature. We all live in a spiritual realm. Everything that is material is projected into our world by another dimension. You feel it, but you can't see it or touch it," he said. "You gotta be in tune with the non physical, and use other senses to communicate."
He mentioned three ways to be successful in life are: the ability to manipulate the material world using the spirit to empower yourself, to use other senses discipline spiritual body over the physical world, and to shed your fear of death.
"When you shed your fear of death, success in life is inevitable. You cannot die till you connect to your purpose. When you tune into your purpose, supernatural things happen," he said. "When you know yourself, you know the Universe, and God."
A.S. President Jeronimo Saldana was very pleased with how the event turned out. "This really helped raise the consciousness of the student body. KRS One helped us empower ourselves," he said.
Professor Wil Doucet, who introduced KRS One, said that he was honored to mention the hip-hop pioneer to SMC students. "I was in college in the '80s, and he (KRS One) was a guy above and beyond everyone else," Doucet said. "His lyrics had genuine content; he wasn't just rhyming about Bling Bling. He was critical, constructive and artistic. He focused on improving. Life. I've been following him for 20 years."
What a performance indeed. Even if you are not a fan of rap or hip-hop, the man's words were nothing sort of life changing, and it was a great way to celebrate Black History Month.