Judgment Day

18 March 2012 | 3:02 pm | Staff Writer

The teacha KRS-ONE introduces Rip Nicholson to his school of hip hop.

Oprah Winfrey visited down under, even Queen Elizabeth and her grandson Princes William walked our red carpets last year. Now we wait, firmly held in 2012, for the inaugural visit of hip hop's leading protagonist, acting strictly for the cause and survival of a culture. KRS-One (born Lawrence Parker) is poised in San Francisco to board a boat and head for our golden shores. Afraid of flying, Parker has taken the month-long trip down under with an agenda to inject knowledge into our our hip hop culture with a “booster shot”. Following some stringent protocol to get him in session, Parker lets loose over 50 minutes with a booming authority over his words. Holding a genuine concern for the upkeep of his culture, Parker lays out an economic model for the survival of Australia's hip hop scene in today's new world, which he believes finds the balance of power shifted in favour of its forebearers and creative souls who maintain the culture's equilibrium behind its commerce.

Charting a takeover, Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone (KRS-One, yo) sets sail to arm us in readiness for the new world. “I've waited a long time for this. There is a couple of places I'm trying to go to over the next three years. And Australia is just one of them that I've been trying to get to for a many years,” admits Parker, who explains the trouble he had with promoters not understanding the goals of his touring plans and treating hip hop's most active ambassador as an artist only. “There has always been challenges, so when I come to a place I don't just want to come to the place, perform and leave. I don't like flying into a country, flying over a country. Beyond that, go straight to the hotel from the airport and to the venue and to the hotel and to the airport and then say 'Okay, I've been to Australia.' That's not my style at all, so I waited it out.”

Since its inception over 30 years back, real hip hop has been held in the hands of a certain few originators, from Kool Herc to Afrika Bambaataa's Zulu Nation and into the hands of the philosophical practitioner KRS-One, who has embodied the true elements of hip hop his whole career. Starting as a graf artist and homeless, in and out of shelters in The Bronx during hip hop's burgeoning years, KRS-One and his Boogie Down Productions outfit invited sharp, young and militant-minded souls to develop new ways of thinking, empowering them with the strength of knowledge. From their seminal 1987 debut Criminal Minded to 1989's Stop The Violence Movement campaign following the murder of his DJ, Scott La Rock, to his staunch Malcolm X window pose on the cover of their follow-up, KRS-One has always taken the lead on strong-arming hip hop into a set of principles and way of life.

Never shying from setting suckers straight, Parker has earned his highly-influential position as hip hop's chief spokesman and as such has made it his endeavour to widen the acceptance of hip hop and all its encompassing elements and educate the next generation. “I'm coming to teach hip hop, straight up and down. When I mean hip hop, I mean the culture of hip hop – the breaking, MCing, the graffiti, beat-boxing, street fashion, language, knowledge and trade skills. Not just rap music, we're bringing a full curriculum to Australia. There is knowledge in hip hop that Australia needs to know going into these next few years and I find it very important to get this survival knowledge out there; knowledge on how to take hip hop beyond the commercial level that's coming out now.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“So if we consider that hip hop is not a physical thing – and more a meta-physical principle – then we can learn to adapt to our environment and factually we can derive our philosophy from our surroundings. That's what I plan to teach Australia too, the tool of mastering the magical uses of hip hop around you; how to really alter your reality with this technique in that sense. This takes the art beyond the entertainment value,” hints Parker.

He is keen to address Australian universities for hip hop lectures and “offer them the official curriculum”. “That is our mission professionally – to organise hip hop for real for real in Australia while I'm there. And, hopefully stay there,” Parker states. “Teach hip hop to any nation, any country or any group of people like Australia, like China, or Japan and it's going to take like three to five years to actually teach the course. And you can see results within the first year to two years. I won't get into specifics, but you see real progress building in the first year or so and Australia deserves it.

“There are some creative and brilliant minds coming up on the perimeter of Australia's hip hop right now, but might become side-tracked by the commercial presentation of hip hop. And if it takes one of us to come forward, then I'm always down,” Parker states as he counts in the importance of hip hop's forefathers. “When I say one of us, I mean Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Crazy Legs, Taki 183, Grandmaster Caz, Busy Bee and The Cold Crush [Brothers]. These are scholars on hip hop straight up and down. These are the people that created the actual culture and these are the ingredients, the secret knowledge to how hip hop was created and this is what Australia needs to know before I leave there.”

But alas, it won't be all war talk, the extra curriculum on the itinerary will find KRS-One practising what he is best known for. As his twentieth LP, 2012's Just Like That, is ready to be added to the text book catalogue spanning over his 26-year career, his shows promise to incorporate the new work, the classics and some old fashioned throw downs with some of Australia's premier MCs. “I'm looking for MCs. I'm the best in the world,” Parker calls out, who has indeed long been heralded as the best freestyle MC in the world. “So when I land, you better be on your A game Australia; I'm not playing. I'm not here to rap for half an hour and record a little video. You're gonna get two two-hour sets, no doubt. Freestyles all day. I'm there to show Australia what hip hop is. This is judgement day right here. All them DJs that play wack, rap music that you' callin' hip hop – I'm callin' them out! They better not show me their playlist or ask me to be on their radio show. If they keep playing that nonsense that we are so sick of hearing, you're not gonna get much from KRS-One. You are gonna get a reprimanding, yes you are.”