KRS-One Biography

Lawrence Krisna Parker, 20 August 1965, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. The kingpin of Boogie Down Productions and a genuine hip-hop pioneer, at the peak of his career in the late 80s and early 90s KRS-One’s standing was reflected not only in terms of his music, but also his lecture tours of the USA, appearing at Yale, Harvard, and countless other institutions to the dismay of some members of those establishments. He was also given the keys to Kansas City, Philadelphia and Compton, California, was nominated for the NACA 1992 Harry Chapman Humanitarian Award, and holds the Reebok Humanitarian Award and three Ampex Golden Reel Awards. He inaugurated the Stop The Violence Movement, and recorded ‘Self-Destruction’, which raised over $600, 000 for the National Urban League, and the human awareness single, ‘Heal Yourself’. Collaborations with R.E.M. (rapping on Out Of Time’s ‘Radio Song’, Michael Stipe returning the favour by assisting on the HEAL project), Sly And Robbie, Shelly Thunder, Shabba Ranks, Ziggy Marley, Billy Bragg, the Neville Brothers, Kool Moe Dee, Chuck D. and Tim Dog, among many others, indicate the respect which KRS-One is given by fellow artists. He has also taken part in several important benefit shows (including ones for Nelson Mandela, and Earth Day), as well as attending rallies with Jesse Jackson.

Following the death of his erstwhile partner, Scott LaRock (whose violent exit in 1987 played a significant role in KRS-One’s anti-violence tracts), he has been joined on studio recordings by DJ Premier and Kid Capri. His post-Boogie Down Productions work combines hints of ragga with strong, bass-driven funk and beatbox samples. KRS-One remains one of the philosophically more enlightened rappers: in particular fighting against the use of the terms ‘ho’ and ‘bitch’ when discussing women. However, he remains as arrogant as they come: ‘I’m not a rapper. I am rap. I am the embodiment of what a lot of MCs are trying to be and do. I’m not doing hip-hop, I am hip-hop’. His first album to be released outside of the Boogie Down Productions banner was 1993’s Return Of The Boom Bap, though many references to his past remained. ‘KRS-One Attacks’, for instance, looped part of the Criminal Minded title track, and ‘P Is Still Free’ updated his 1986 anti-crack opus, ‘P Is Free’. The early 90s also saw some words and actions that would seem to contradict earlier statements, notably his physical attack on Prince Be of P.M. Dawn. ‘The way I stop the violence is with a baseball bat and beat the shit out of you... If negativity comes with a.22, positivity comes with a.45. If negativity comes with.45, positivity comes with an Uzi: The light has got to be stronger than darkness’. An adequate rebuttal, but apparently all P.M. Dawn had done to diss KRS-One was to suggest in a copy of Details magazine that: ‘KRS-One wants to be a teacher, but a teacher of what?’. In retaliation, KRS-One and his posse invaded the stage during the following night’s P.M. Dawn gig at the Sound Factory Club in New York, throwing Prince Be offstage and commandeering the microphone for his own set. The whole event was filmed live by Yo! MTV Raps. Though he later apologised publicly, in private KRS-One was telling the world that he was tired of MCs and hip-hop crews disrespecting him. That he felt it necessary so piously to protect it was an unsightly blemish on his reputation. By that point, however, a new rap hierarchy had already superseded the old school style of MCing represented by KRS-One. His commercial and creative decline during the 90s should not, however, detract from the importance, quality and influence of his work.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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