Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Artist Profile: KRS-One.... A Rap Legend

Lawrence Krisna Parker (born August 20, 1965), known as KRS-One, is an American hip hop MC of Jamaican descent. KRS-One(Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone) is one of the most influential rap artists to ever pick up a microphone. Also known as "The Blastmaster, The Teacha, and his original grafiti tag Kris Number One", has become one of the few artists in hip hop that has managed to stay relavant without using the average hip stereotypes about women and bling. He has used his ability to "MC" to reach a large mass of people with the message of peace and stopping the violence.

KRS-One began his recording career as one half of the hip hop group Boogie Down Productions alongside DJ Scott La Rock. They met during a stay KRS-One had at the Bronx's Franklin Armory Shelter. La Rock (real name Scott Sterling) worked as a social worker there. The duo would begin to create music. After being rejected by radio DJs Mr. Magic and Marley Marl, KRS-One would go on to diss the two and those associated with them, sparking what would later be known as The Bridge Wars. Additionally, KRS had taken offense to "The Bridge", a song by Marley Marl's protege (later on, KRS One produced an album with Marley Marl in 2007); the song could be interpreted as a claim that Queensbridge was the birthplace of hip hop, which KRS vehemently asserted to the contrary with the BDP record "South Bronx"; a second round of volleys would ensue with Shan's "Kill That Noise" and BDP's "The Bridge Is Over". KRS-One, demonstrating his nickname "The Blastmaster", would give a live performance that would devastate MC Shan, and many conceded he had won the battle.

Parker and Sterling decided to form a rap group together, initially calling themselves "Scott La Rock and the Celebrity Three". That was short-lived, however, as the two peripheral members quit, leaving Parker (now calling himself KRS-One) and Sterling. They then decided to call themselves "Boogie Down Productions". Success is the Word, a 12-inch single produced by David Kenneth Eng and Kenny Beck was released on indie Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records (under the group name "12:41") did not enjoy commercial success. Boogie Down Productions would release their debut album Criminal Minded in 1987. While KRS-One "The Teacha" was equally known for his furiously political and socially conscious raps, the album, whose cover pictured BDP draped in ammunition and brandishing guns, is often credited with setting the template for the burgeoning genres of hardcore and gangsta rap. Scott La Rock was killed in a shooting later that year, after attempting to mediate a dispute between teenager and BDP member Derrick "D-Nice" Jones and local hoodlums.
Following the fatal shooting of Scott La Rock in 1987, Boogie Down Productions (BDP) became increasingly political. KRS-One was the primary motivation behind the HEAL compilation and the Stop the Violence Movement. He attracted many prominent MCs to appear on the 12-inch "Self Destruction". As Parker adopted this more conscientious, less violent approach, and began calling himself "The Teacha", turning KRS-ONE into the backronym "Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone".On his first solo album, 1993's Return of the Boom Bap, Parker worked together with producers DJ Premier (Gang Starr), Showbiz and Kid Capri. The catchy yet hardcore track "Sound of da Police" is featured on this album. His second album, 1995's KRS-One featured Channel Live on the track "Free Mumia", a political protest song about Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American and Black Panther member who a vocal group of activists on the political left claim is innocent of the murder of a police officer for which he was convicted. Other prominent guest artists on KRS One included Mad Lion, Busta Rhymes, Das EFX and Fat Joe.

In 1997, Parker surprised many with his release of the album I Got Next. The record included a remix of the single "Step into a World" which featured a sample from the 1970s rock group Blondie by commercial rap icon Puff Daddy. "Heartbeat", featuring Angie Martinez and Redman, was based on the old school classic "Feel the Heartbeat" by the Treacherous Three. These collaborations with notably mainstream artists took many fans and observers of the vehemently anti-mainstream KRS-One by surprise. However, in August 1997, Parker appeared on Tim Westwood's BBC Radio 1 show and vociferously denounced the DJ and the radio station more generally, accusing them of ignoring his style of hip hop in favour of commercial artists such as Puff Daddy.In 1999, there were tentative plans to release an album called Maximum Strength; a lead single, "5 Boroughs", was released on The Corruptor movie soundtrack. However, Parker apparently decided to abort the album's planned release, just as he had secured a position as a Vice-President of A&R at Reprise Records. He moved to southern California, and stayed there for two years, ending his relationship with Jive Records with A Retrospective in 2000. The next year, he resigned his position at Reprise and in 2001 The Sneak Attack was released on Koch Records. In 2002, he released a gospel music-rap album, Spiritual Minded, surprising many longtime fans. Parker had once denounced Christianity as a "slavemaster religion" which African-Americans should not follow. He founded the Temple of Hiphop, and released a new album, Kristyles, in mid-2003, which was preceded by KRS-One: The Mixtape. In the summer of 2004 he released Keep Right.

More Here about KRS ONE

Just to let you know... KRS One has also been making a few other deals. Besides him signing with Buckshot (yea that Buckshot from Blackmoon) and getting his other hip hop "BIZ" together... Krs-One has been shining on deals with Nike and Smirnoff recently. Here’s some quick background on why he doesn’t consider it selling out.

DigitalJournal.com: So how do you think the hip-hop business model is changing?

KRS-ONE: Today, artists like myself or Chuck D or Talib Kweli hold a degree of credibility that’s attracting companies like Red Bull, Cadillac, or Nike. Executives at these companies are our fans. And they are really sick of the state of music. So what they’ve done is spend $250,000 of their own money, in the case of Nike, to create a song with Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, and KRS ONE. We don’t rap about the shoes because they don’t want us talking about that. They just want us to create a song they can play on their website. Authenticity is the new business model and these companies need a product that’s not destroyed by an artist’s shady image.

DigitalJournal.com: But won’t some old-school hip-hop fans say you’re selling out?

KRS-ONE: When you get KRS ONE, I’m not changing my message for nobody. If you do business with KRS, you’re getting anti-war statements, you’re getting stuff about the Temple of Hip Hop. A sellout is someone who buys you and changes your message, but we’re not doing that. (props to Digital Journal)
Smirnoff Signature Mix Series

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