Even in death, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. arguably loom larger over Hip Hop in death than they did while alive. There are countless tribute songs, biopics and magazine issues which attest to this fact. But at the height of their bitter rivalry, the battle aspect of Hip Hop that seems so commonplace today, was manipulated to generate huge profits for some of the same magazines and radio stations which still exist today. In a recent conversation with HipHopDX, “The Teacha” explained his role in helping the soon-to-be resurrected Vibe franchise learn from the deaths of Biggie and ’Pac.
“Keith Clinkscales was one of the first people to sit down and talk with me about Hip Hop as a sovereign nation onto itself,” KRS noted. “I hope you print the fact that I have a lot of respect for that man. He was hired to work directly under Quincy Jones, and he basically started Vibe magazine. That’s what made me respect Vibe, because they started with this type of thinking. Their editor was sitting down having dinners with me to discuss the culture. We weren’t talking about any covers, and I didn’t even have anything out at the time.”
KRS added that Clinkscales came to him with reservations about just how instrumental Vibe was in the B.I.G. versus ’Pac feud that ultimately ended with both rappers dead.
“Keith Clinkscales came to me and asked, ‘Have we sinned against Hip Hop?’ I told him, ‘You have sinned. You have a responsibility to Hip Hop culture, and you became an emcee and got caught up in the battle. You shirked your responsibility.’ Keith had tears in his eyes, and I’ll never forget. We was at City Crab on Park Avenue in Manhattan, and he and I just went back and forth.
“How do we fix it? How do we make things better?”
“You have to come out with a whole new magazine. You have to focus on the battle in particular. We have to clean up the battles within our culture, so that when you battle you don’t get shot.”
After giving KRS-One an editorial position at the now-defunct Vibe spinoff, Blaze magazine, Clinkscales later became Senior Vice President of Content Development and Enterprises at ESPN. In addition to his many other current ventures, KRS-One will be releasing Survival Skills with Buckshot on Duck Down Records. Their collaborative album hits stores on September 15.