You know how there’s always a guy you know who just never stops talking when you’re trying to enjoy a beer and annoy some dames? KRS-One is sort of like that, except he usually says something worth hearing - either because it’s so spot-on, or just completely bananas. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two. When I got the chance to pick at his brain to celebrate the release of his new album with former rival Marley Marl (as well celebrate twenty years of releasing music) we covered a number of topics, but it was one question in particular that seemed to really spark his interest. So much so, that it took-up half of the interview. But given that race is always a hot topic in America, it’s only right that one of hip-hop’s most outspoken and articulate representatives has the chance to speak his piece.
Robbie: What are your feelings on Russell “Rush” getting on Bill O’Reilly and apologizing to him? Talking about banning words – it seems kind of ironic considering he used to sell dust and promoted all kinds of ignorant Def Jam artists, and suddenly he wants to be holier-than–thou. What are your thoughts on that situation?
KRS-One: Well you just said my thoughts. That’s really it. Russell’s a great friend – not a best friend – but a great friend and a great ally. Russell’s an intelligent man – he is hip-hop. His legacy in hip-hop is unmatched. Def Jam is an institution in our culture, no doubt about it. But everything you just said is my feeling and is my thought. We’re talking culture now, we’re talking community now. We’re talking within the culture now, and when you look at Russell as a brother now – not a mogul, not a CEO – no Russell, you just a hip-hopper like the rest of us now. And we’re now sizing-up your contribution, and sizing-up who you really are now. Here’s where these questions come in now, and they’re to be kept in this context as well. What are my thoughts on it? First of all, for me, we need more niggas. I don’t think we need less niggas, we need more niggas. I was with Afrika Bambatta last night, and Bam was explaining to me the use of this word “nigga” – we need to chill with that shit, totally. According to Bam, it is degrading. We don’t need to be calling each other niggas, bitches and hoes. We just don’t need to be doin’ that. We need to call ourselves Gods, Goddesses, queens and kings. I take my orders from Afrika Bambatta. That’s where I get my orders from. Al Sharpton said the same thing – we need to ban the use of the “N” word. Russell Simmons has said we need to ban the use of the “N” word. Afrika Bambatta has said “we need to ban the use of the “N” word”. I take my cue from Afrika Bambatta! But I take my cue from Afrika Bambatta because he’s a real nigga! No doubt! And he’s surrounded by real niggas – no doubt! I was with real niggas yesterday – Afrika Bambatta and I hung out, then I went over to his radio show, and I started talking about this. “What is your stance, Bam? What is Zulu Nation’s stance on this use of the word nigga?” And Bam is real surface with it because he know what time it is. We not really banning the use of the word nigga – you’re not gonna do that. But….can we teach our children something different? Bam’s thing is balance. If you’re gonna call your brother a nigga - call him God, too. Don’t just call him nigga. Call him God, call him king, call her queen. That’s where Bam is coming from, and I’m taking my cue from that.