Words from KRS-ONE

For everyone at Santa Monica College and in Los Angeles who loves hip-hop and thinks that hip-hop is more than the rap game, let us pray and give thanks that the Temple of Hip-Hop has arrived (or more specifically arrived at 5535 Hollywood Blvd). KRS-ONE, our preacher of hip-hop culture, leads us into the 21st century with a positive message exposing the "corporate battle" for rap, and establishing in Los Angeles a voice for the true message of hip-hop. Just a few words form one an all-time influences of urban culture:

Tiahna - Define the difference between rappers and hip-hop artists.

KRS - A hip-hop artist, let me elaborate a little because you broadened the subject, a hip-hop artist can be a b-boy, b-girl, breaker, break dancer, an MC, DJ, graffiti writer, beat boxer, fashion person, you know, these are our artists, hip- hop's artists, different than just being a rapper. Now a MC is different than a rapper. An MC is a hip-hop artist, a rapper is a corporate artist, meaning a rapper raps on behalf of corporate interests, a MC rhymes on behalf of cultural interests. A good MC almost always becomes a rapper, but a rapper will never be a MC.

Tiahna - Where does rap fall into pop music?

KRS - Rap is pop music, rap - r-a-p - is the combination of DJ-ing and MC-ing. That is popular music. It is the number one music. It has dropped because the whole musical industry has collapsed, but rap music is the popular demand, popular music, it's the pop-music, pop-cultures music, but anyone can mimic rap.

Tiahna - Does hip-hop escape the corporate identity?

KRS - You got to really be you to be hip-hop, or to be hip-hop's artists you have to really be you. Like Snoop Dogg is not who you see, 50 cent is not who you see...

Tiahna - OK, that gets to my next question, I am going to throw out eight or nine names and I want you to tell me whether they are a rapper or hip-hop artist? Ja Rule?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - Eminem?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - Ice Cube?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - E-40?

KRS - Umm, that's an MC.

Tiahna - DMX?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - Eve?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna-New-comer Remy Martin?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - OK, Biggie?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - 2-Pac?

KRS - Rapper.

Tiahna - I am a little surprised at two of the names - DMX and 2-Pac. Do they fall between rap and hip-hop?

KRS - Not hip-hop according to Africa Bambaataa, Cool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Grandwizard Theodore, Rock Steady Crew, Phase 2. Them other cats are...they have nothing to say in those arenas. But E-40, he's the man in Oakland, he's the man in Oakland no question, I would even put Too Short there as an MC.

Tiahna - Wow, OK, some people would argue that he is a rapper?

KRS - Of course, of course, of course look at the criteria, the criteria is the MC rhymes on behalf of the culture. They don't care what you're thinking about corporately, they don't know if it is gonna sell, they don't know what it is gonna do?

Tiahna - OK then under those definitions Too Short would fall under MC because he never had an ounce of radio airplay?

KRS - Right and he was not looking for it. See this is the inner part, if you are looking for it you immediately give up your MC card. 2-pac started out as an MC, and became a rapper and died in vain. OK, let me just say also that this is just my biased opinion, this is not an authoritative census. It would require more conversation with more people, but if you want to ask KRS, that is the truth.

Tiahna - So, Mos Def?

KRS - He's an MC, he's an MC. He's becoming a rapper though.

Tiahna - Old Dirty Bastard? Do you think examples like him determine whether hip-hop in New York falls into rap?

KRS - Yeah, but he's not a good example because Osiris, who is formerly known as Ol' D.B., he died Osiris, he lived as an old dirty bastard, but he, um...he's an MC. First of all the whole Wu-Tang are MCs, they don't care what you think, like they gonna do what they do regardless whether its gonna get played on the radio, they did get played on the radio, they did it like that, but they weren't trying for it, and Ole' D.B. is the same way. To answer your question in that sense, hip-hop is not going to fail, it's not going to go down. Now that we exist we will never not exist. Even if we stopped today, I say for some reason hip-hop just stopped, you know, the rest of the world will say, "Wow, from 1972 to 2005 there was this phenomena in," and there will be courses and classes and books, we will always be here, nothing real can ever be destroyed.

Tiahna - What does KRS mean and say something for aspiring MCs?

KRS - Knowledge-Reigns-Supreme. Knowledge reigns supreme over nearly everyone. For the kids that want to be MCs? The Red Hot Chili Peppers said it best, "Give it away, give it away, give it away now." Charity is the fastest way to get heard, give your talent away for free. Don't wait for the check, don't let the money dictate whether you are going to rhyme or not, be an MC, not a rapper. Give your talent away; anytime it's time to rhyme, give the rhymes up.