KRS-One: Duck Down!
Now on the heels of his most recent release, the critically acclaimed Hip Hop Lives (recorded with foe-turned-friend Marley Marl), The Blastmaster is fresh for 2008 with a slew of new projects. First up is the January 22nd release of his 12th solo album, Adventures In Emceein'. Following that release will likely be his debut on Duck Down Records. And if that isnt enough KRS for you, the self-proclaimed living embodiment of Hip Hop will be blessing our ears with two additional, slightly experimental albums: an R&B-tinged spiritual Hip Hop record, and a acoustic guitar-driven spoken-word album.
HipHopDX.com recently spoke with KRS-One about all of the aforementioned releases, as well as his recent Grammy nomination, his desire to have Cuba Gooding play him on the big screen, the rebirth of his Stop The Violence Movement, and finally his plans to take over BET this coming Spring.
HipHopDX: Now that youre on Duck Down youre not gonna start smoking bidis and wearing fatigues all the time, are you?
KRS-One: Well Buckshot and I decided to do an album together. And in the midst of doing an album together, this is what we are calling I guess KRS-One signing or getting down with Duck Down. [Its] sort of a boost to them as well to have KRS part of their roster of artists. And I dont mind it either. Throughout my career, Ive been down with several crews: Terror Squad all the way, Diggin In The Crates all the way, obviously Boogie Down Productions. But Duck Down is just another crew that Im actually loyal too. So, will I be smoking bidis [Laughs]? No. I will be KRS. In fact, I would hope to add the KRS flavor to what they already have going on there.
DX: So just for clarification, youre not officially signed as a solo artist to Duck Down?
KRS: No, Im not officially signed. But, I would word that very poetically because I know what theyre trying to do with that kind of promotion, and I dont wanna go against that.
DX: Is this project gonna be a straight KRS solo project, or the Buckshot/KRS joint project you were talking about?
KRS: Its a Duck Down project, it really is. Im coming into their camp. This is me coming to them to produce something that could not normally be produced otherwise. Plus, we also wanna try to start a trendWhat Buckshot and I were talking about was starting that trend that artists [work together]. A lot of us know each other, and hang out even, why not do collaborations that are unheard of, or I should say Hip Hops what ifs? We always wanted to hear a [Big Daddy] Kane and Rakim duet album. It may serve them to do that.
I think that rap music is in need of this kind of freshness. So this is what draws me to the table to be able to work with Buckshot. I think hes an emcee in every sense of the word. He loves the art. Money has not swayed him one way left or right. He rips parties down crazy. And his tracks isI mean, BeatminerzI mean, the whole Duck Down house really is just something that lends itself to KRS-One. Its very easy for me to do this.
DX: Well just for additional clarification, you dont have a distinct gameplan as of yet for the album?
KRS: No. Youre actually talking to me at the very, very beginning of this project. So no, we dont have anything planned [as of yet]. But I tell you though, with Nas coming with Nigger, we gonna come up with a title thats crazy!
DX: Diamond D is on Duck Down now too, can we look forward to you guys working together again?
KRS: Absolutely. I shouted Diamond D out at the BET Hip Hop Awards. He was sitting right there and caught my eye. I was like, Word up! Whats up with Diamond D!
DX: You guys havent worked together since the self-titled album, right?
KRS: Right. I mean, Ive done some work on compilation albums that he was part of. Like you know, three emcees on a track, and I spit 16, and it happened to be a Diamond D track. But nothing like we did with the KRS-One album, and/or even previous work that Ive done with him that really never came out I dont think, or came out on mixtapes and stuff like that. But we never really, really got down the way we were supposed to.
DX: Just out of curiousity, while were speaking on Duck Down, Duck Down off Sex And Violence, did Buckshot ever tell you if that was the inspiration for the label name?
KRS: You know what, I dont remember him ever saying that but I kinda think it [was]. Knowing Buckshot, knowing where we came from, the early days and all of that, yeah, I kinda felt it [was] in the back of my head.
DX: Yeah, I think that song came out like a year before Enta Da Stage dropped, so that sounds about right. Now, youre on Duck Down but you also have another album coming out on January 22nd called Adventures In Emceein', correct?
KRS: I keep a fresh album nearby. People are ready for me to shut the hell up. People are probably saying, Why is KRS coming out with another album? And they are so right to ask that question. But now heres the answer, I come from a place where at least once a year, as an emcee, you kept a fresh tape on you. If you take on the role and title of emcee, you supposed to keep a fresh tape on you. This is what Adventures In Emceein' was. Its sort of a compilation of all the songs and ideas that I recorded that I just keep with me. And it just accumulated to a point where a guy named Jeffrey Collins, who runs Echo Vista Records, known him for years said, Why dont you put this stuff out? Its timely, put it out now. And a lot of it is not even 2007 material. A lot of it is 2005 material, 2006 even, the earlier stuff. So Im like, Whatever, go ahead and put it out. I love the work. Im proud of it. Its actually for the true B.D.P. fan. For the true KRS fan this Adventures In Emceein' is what you want right now. Its not an album where Im probably gonna do a video to it. Im not trying to tour off this album.This is just KRS-One staying current, staying fresh, always keeping a fresh tape in the eyes of the public.
I stay a creative person. Matter fact, Im recording an album right now that I dont even know the name of it. I linked up with a guy named Da Rock, whos got some nice beats, heavy on the R&B side but I get a chance to explore my spiritual nature with some of the tracks, a more metaphysical album. I also did [an album] with a guy named Harold English, a Blues player. He pulled out the acoustic guitar and we did a spoken-word album in a weekend. Some of the stuff appeared with my Ruminations book. The book came with a CD, and some of the poems that are on that CD comes from this album that we did some years back. And only now am I even thinking about putting it out. Its a spoken-word blues album done with an acoustic guitar, but Im breaking the lyrics crazy! The lyrics is ill on there So what Im trying to say is, with KRS-One its not even that I have to put out a new record, I have about 50 songs always around me. And sometimes they come out, they come out on soundtrack projects, they come out as albums, they come out maybe just on DVD. Sometimes I freestyle the lyrics on television shows and [other] places. And once I put a lyric out into the public, whether I do it in BETs booth or whether I do it on Sucka Free or whatever it is, I dont say those rhymes no more. Those rhymes are done and I move on to the next thing. This is how I do it. I constantly work, and I have a barrage of material.
DX: Going back to Adventures In Emceein' real quick, did I read correctly that Rakim, Nas and Just Blaze all contributed somehow to the project?
KRS: They did shout-outs. That sounds like somebody marketing the thing and I gotta put a lid on that. No, theyre not rhyming. They come and do shout-outs. They just gave me a couple shout-outs. Nas shouted me out for the album. Rakim, Kanye, Fat Joe, and others [shouted me out]. The Just Blaze track is interesting because Just Blaze probably doesnt even know hes on this album. I was in Miami and rhymed on a track with a guy named Stevie J, and he happened to have a shout-out of Just Blaze actually shouting him out on the front of this track. I rhymed on it and we just kept the whole thing. I did this like a year-and-a-half ago, and so when Just Blaze hears it, hes probably gonna bug out.
DX: Now I mentioned Nas and Rakim, along with Kanye you guys are nominated for a Grammy together for Better Than Ive Ever Been. Is this your first nomination, I cant recall?
KRS: Yes. Its kinda weird, its my first direct nomination, to me. I was at the Grammy Awards two other times, with Shabba Ranks and with R.E.M. when they were both up for Grammys [which] I had contributed to the albums, Out Of Time by R.E.M. and [Rough & Ready Vol. II by Shabba Ranks]. But at the end of the day, no, this is my first direct nomination in that sense. I dont know what to make of it to be honest with you. I dont know what to think of that.
DX: Cmon, be real with me, did Nike buy that nomination? [Laughs].
KRS: Hey! You know what, I dont know. Ima put it that way, I dont know. But you know what, I dont think that Nike would do that cause Nike as a company is cocky. Something like that would seem to be beneath a Nike. I could be wrong as hell, but it just seems like to me that would be beneath them.
DX: Have you kept a relationship with them since the commercial you did some years back?
KRS: The revolution is basketball! And cats tried to crucify KRS.
DX: Yeah, KRS and Nike! First Sprite and then Nike.
KRS: Damn, I just was like Mr. Sellout for that year.
DX: [Laughs]. Switching gears here, Im curious to know whos gonna be playing you in the Juice Crew movie, The Vapors, that starts filming next month?
KRS: Uh, probably Cuba Goodingor maybe they wont even mention me.
DX: It is interesting, the people they have recruited so far are to play Roxanne Shante and Mr. Magic, no mention of KRS.
KRS: Right, maybe they wont even mention me and just do a movie about the creation of the Juice Crew. Because remember the original Juice Crew was not MC Shan and Marley Marl and these guys, it was Mr. Magic and 13 others that I think included Melle Mel and that click. Busy Bee may know the story better. And that was the original Juice Crew. Mr. Magic was a part of that, and kind of extended the honor to these guys, according to the legend. So they could be doing a movie on the original Juice Crew of the early 80s/late 70s, not really the Shante [era]. Maybe thats like the end of their story.
DX: Yeah, Im not sure. Has Marley talked to you at all about that? Is he involved with that?
KRS: I dont know. Nobodys spoken to me about it at all. As a matter of fact, this is news to me right now. Youre telling me something right now. I dont even know anything about it.
DX: I guess while were taking it back to 87, I have to ask you about a far less joyful memory from that year, this past August marked the 20th anniversary of Scott LaRocks murder, and I just wanted you to say anything you wanna say about the anniversary. There wasnt really any media coverage about it, so
KRS: You know, we keep Scotts name alive within the Hip Hop community through music and books and shout-outs and all of that kind of stuff, but really its I dont know what to say when it comes to Scott. Its sortalet me tell you what Im thinking about actually, is thathave we actually grown up? Like, were still experiencing the same thing as in 87. Jam Master Jay was the latest. Its only a matter of time really, and I dont say this morbidly, before we get another call.
DX: Or rappers killing themselves. The autopsy isnt back, but Pimp Cs passing was likely due to drugs. Rappers killing themselves, basically.
KRS: Right. And speaking of that, my recent tragedy with my son committing suicide, have we elevated now from homicide to suicide?
DX: I wouldnt call that an elevation, but
KRS: I tell you, the thing I will say about Scott is well continue to keep his name alive.
DX: While were speaking on Scott I wanna ask you about this, you and he were already working on the first Stop The Violence movement before he was murdered, right?
KRS: Oh yeah, no doubt!
DX: Cause I think a lot of people think you were inspired by that and that was the catalyst.
KRS: No, no, no, and let me come back and add a little bit of clarity to that as well. It wasnt the Stop The Violence Movement that was created [prior to Scotts passing], it was the Stop The Violence record that appeared on the By All Means Necessary album in 88. Scott LaRock was tampering with the production of that one [before he passed]. It was Stop The Violence, My Philosophy and Im Still #1 that Scott was working on with me production-wise before he was killed. The song My Philosophy, he had already chose that beat, the Sister Sanctified [sample]. But going back to Stop The Violence, that song was already done, written at least, the One, two, three, the crew is called BDP. That was already written and being performed back in 87.
Now after By All Means Necessary comes out and the song Stop The Violence is on the album, Anne Carly, who was at the time A&R for Jive Records, comes to me and says, I wanna start a movement based on your song, Stop The Violence. So Anne Carly, a young Asian woman, approached KRS [to make this movement happen].
DX: And why nearly 20 years later is the official relaunch of the movement happening?
KRS: Well, I dont think there will be an official launch, truthfully. This is a movement thats just going to happen. All of a sudden youll just start seeing the expressions of this movement. If there is one date that we are all looking at right now its December 31, 2007. At noon it becomes December 32nd, and we take a twelve hour day of prayer, fasting and meditation. At noon, wherever you are in the world, we are asking that people take five-10 minutes to visualize peace in the world happening. We have a website called stvmovement.org and hopefully there you can see me in meditation and join us from wherever you are.
Thats the first [unofficial] launch. The second launch will be the second and third week in May. The third week in May is Hip Hop Appreciation Week. The second and third week of May Im going to produce BET. When I went to Atlanta and accepted the I Am Hip Hop Award [at the BET Hip Hop Awards] I ran up on Stephen Hill and we started talking. About a week later we [had] a meeting and discussed BET and their bullshit. And when we came to the final conclusion, BET is sick of BET. The people that work at BET are sick of BET. Its a job for them. When I gained that enlightenment, that Stephen Hill actually wants to do something Stephen Hill suggested, Why dont we see what youre talking about, in terms of balanced programming. Why dont you take over two weeks anytime in 2008 and program Rap City. So the Stop The Violence movement links into that because two weeks into May I will be taking over the Rap City airwaves and putting out a version of Hip Hop I would like to see.
DX: So youre just gonna rerun a show from like 89 or something? [Laughs].
KRS: [Laughs]. Damn, you just solved the whole issue. But nah, what I wanna do is get the memo out to artists like Common and Talib that they should do specialized videos for these two weeks. Im not gonna take the history approach, you need to know what Hip Hop is from the past. Im gonna take the future approach, this is the possibility of what we can become.