KRS-ONE: Hip-hop Clergy

KRS-ONE keeps the hip-hop religion real

For more than a decade, KRS-One has been a culturally and politically visionary voice in hip-hop. On critically acclaimed albums like "Return of the Boom Bap," "I Got Next," and "KRS-One," he became an important voice for a philosophically and even religiously "humanist" perspective in hip-hop, even as most rappers were veering from pure commercialism to separatist politics. He talked to Mark LeVine last month in Los Angeles.

In a Recent
Hip-Hop.com Poll:
  • 18 percent felt hip-hop should be a new religion.
  • When asked "Do you believe in hip-hop or God," 43 said "hip-hop."
  • 78 percent thought there should be a hip-hop revolution.
  • Why do you call your show The Divine Performance?
    We look at the spiritual life as a performance before God. God is the headliner, and the stage is the world, and so you're always an opening act, no matter how popular and successful you become. So you never really perform in a complete sense, like I did and ended my performance. What you're doing is opening for God.

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    So in a sense this is a mystical experience.
    Yes, we call it "The Great Event."

    Is all music, all performance sacred?
    Yes, all is sacred--every act is sacred.

    How do your less spiritually attuned comrades and your fans react when you talk about this to them?
    We tune into spirituality once in a while and wonder, "How is this whole thing working?" I think the kids today do this naturally. It's a bittersweet process, because it means all the systems have failed in the society. The only way you can feel spirituality naturally is when all the institutions have failed. When the institutions fail like they have in this country, you have an upsurge of youth going, "I feel something." It allows these feelings to come up.

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