For KRS-ONE, known as “The Teacha” in the hip-hop community, hip-hop was never just a path to success; it was a comprehensive worldview and a part of his identity. His breakthrough moment came in 1986 with the release of “South Bronx,” a track that actualized his childhood dream of becoming an MC. This accomplishment was particularly significant given his background as a young, Black, poor, and homeless individual in New York. It was a testament to the power of his mind to shape his reality.
In the 1980s and 1990s, KRS-ONE observed that few viewed hip-hop as a culture; it was mostly seen as rap music. He credits the Temple of Hip-Hop, along with organizations like Zulu Nation and individuals such as Harry Allen and Hakim Green, for their efforts in establishing hip-hop as a culture of peace and prosperity. KRS-ONE played a crucial role in promoting hip-hop as a new world civilization, introducing concepts and slogans that emphasized hip-hop as a lifestyle.
A significant milestone in this journey was the Hip-Hop Declaration of Peace, revealed during Hip-Hop Appreciation Week in May 2001. This event, attended by over 300 hip-hop pioneers, activists, professors, and NGOs, was groundbreaking in gaining governmental recognition of hip-hop as a global culture.
KRS-ONE’s commitment to hip-hop goes beyond the music; it’s a calling that he feels is supported by the ancestors, children, and the future. He teaches the concept of being a friend to both past and future selves, utilizing meditation to connect with his younger self, offering guidance and reassurance.
His life experiences shaped his views on various societal issues, including politics, religion, and human nature. Initially disillusioned by the shortcomings of leaders, he came to realize that he was the leader he had been seeking. KRS-ONE’s understanding of social ills like racism, sexism, and crime evolved, recognizing them as manifestations of deeper issues like depression and desperation.
Despite his longstanding skepticism of the American political process, which he saw as a form of white supremacy, KRS-ONE’s perspective began to shift as he witnessed the influence of hip-hop culture on political figures. He predicted in 1989 that future leaders would be shaped by hip-hop, a prophecy he believes is now being realized.
As politicians start to acknowledge the value of his ideas on hip-hop, KRS-ONE contemplates modifying his views on voting and political engagement. His vision for hip-hop transcends music; it’s about establishing a new civilization, a mission he believes he was born to fulfill. KRS-ONE remains steadfast in his belief in hip-hop as a transformative force, integral to his life and purpose.