KRS-One (born Lawrence Parker) is one of the most respected hip hop artists in the world. The 2008 recipient of the BET Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, KRS-One has cemented his legacy in the music industry not only as a rapper, but as an author, producer, humanitarian, activist and all around leader.
KRS-One may be a legendary figure today but his path to the top has not been easy. Leaving home at the age of 14, KRS-One found himself living in a homeless shelter in the South Bronx. Although homeless, KRS-One always had a strong sense of spirituality and purpose as evidenced by the nickname of "Krishna" given to him at the shelter. In addition to working with anti-poverty workers at the shelter, Parker was also a graffiti artist where he tagged under the name Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, or KRS-One. It was during this time in his teens where KRS-One met Scott Sterling (a.k.a. DJ Scott La Rock) and ultimately formed Boogie Down Productions (BDP).
From the inception of his music career in 1984 KRS-One was set on changing the game of hip hop. While most rappers were rhyming about cars, bling and jewelry, KRS-One rapped about poverty, nuclear war prevention, and anti-violence messages. His 1984 single “Stop the Violence” was a testament to his early mindset. After some initial contract turmoil in the mid 1980's BDP released their first album "Criminal Minded" in 1987. Just as it appeared that BDP was on its way Scott La Rock was tragically killed in a street altercation. For many it would have been the end of their career but for KRS-One it turned out to be a beginning.
From 1987 through today KRS-One has made 20 albums with BDP and as a solo artist and has collaborated with everyone from Chuck D to MC Lyte. His legacy however is much more than his discography as KRS-One is considered a father of hip hop who has extended the culture to an almost religious status.
KRS-One always speaks his mind. KRS-One has been a tireless voice for the voiceless and has used hip hop as a platform for spreading a message of fairness, equality and uplift. Never afraid of controversy, KRS-One has spoken out against corporate corruption, politicians, the government and the media. In 2001 KRS-One was heavily criticized by the media for his comments about the attacks of 9/11 saying in effect that the attacks could be blamed on American Neo-conservatives, the Reagan doctrine and the policies of George W. Bush. He felt that the strike against America was an attack on the corporate elite in America who had oppressed not only other countries, but more importantly African Americans and the poor here in America. Never backing down, KRS has called out major record companies like Sony, RCA, Clear Channel, BET, MTV and others for the exploitation of hip hop youth and aspiring musicians of all genres. (check out the “Bin Laden” remix by Immortal Technique, Chuck D and KRS-One)
KRS-One is a firm believer in anti-violence. After enduring the death of his original partner Scott La Rock in 1987 and the subsequent killing of a fan at a 1989 concert, KRS-One started the “Stop the Violence Movement” aimed at purging the violence in the hip hop and African American communities. His single “Self Destruction” in 1989 featured some of the biggest rap stars on the east coast to include, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee, Doug e Fresh, Heavy D and MC Lyte with all of the proceeds from the song dedicated to the National Urban League. Spiritual by nature, but not religious, KRS-One believes in peace on earth for all peoples of all faiths.
KRS One has never been afraid to think big. As a youth in a homeless shelter KRS-One was never afraid to dream big dreams and take on big challenges. He is widely known as a founder of hip hop and is one of the most influential persons in the business. Along the way he has helped countless other artists as a producer and a collaborator and even briefly served as Vice President of A&R Records. In addition to his musical work, KRS-One is also the author of the 600-page hip hop bible “The Gospel of Hip Hop”, a treatise on everything related to the hip hop lifestyle. To date no other book of its kind has been written and it is Parker’s intent that no other literary work will ever rival it.
"Stripped down, cats don't get down like this
But true revolutionaries get down like this
Street activists be surrounding Kris
I gets down, I don't just pound my fist
Greedy executives, y'all can like drown in piss
Cause raw Hip Hop, man it sounds like this" - KRS One, Never Afraid
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