Blastmaster KRS-ONE is a name that may not be widely known in the mainstream of current pop culture. But among hip-hop intellectuals, rap music enthusiasts and historians, he is infamous. Most people refer to him as KRS-ONE, which is short for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone or Kris #1.
He has been a pioneering force in the styling and promotion of hip-hop as a music and culture. Although J. Blastmaster’s contributions are vast and varied, he has an overall cohesion and charisma that has allowed many cultures to embrace him. This includes the academic world and places where English is not the native language.
KRS-ONE: In the Beginning
Born Lawrence Parker in Brooklyn, New York 1965, he voluntarily left home at 16. KRS became homeless in the South Bronx at a tumultuous time, yet he became a beacon of light to millions across the globe. In, fact, many call him the teacher of hip-hop.
KRS made a great splash into the music scene with Boogie Down Productions (BDP) in 1987. His first LP, Criminal Minded, is the blueprint for a lot of his successor’s genres they call “gangsta” and “conscious” rap. But KRS brought a poetic aesthetic people had never heard before in rap. Also, his Caribbean background led him to create a dance-hall vibe that was new to the rap music genre.
But J. Blastmaster’s first breakthrough song was a diss track, which was what many rappers were doing at the time. In addition, he had great storytelling, production and energy in his music, and that makes his first album one of the most revered in the history of rap music.
His next album, By Any Means Necessary, took a dramatically different turn to the social and political commentary with more great energy and production. His depth of knowledge and understanding, as well as the subject matter he approached, went into uncharted grounds for a rapper.
KRS as a Trail-Blazer
KRS-ONE continued to blaze trails in each step of his career. He was the first to speak on the lecture circuit from the hip-hop community and he continues to tour. He started the Stop the Violence Movement in response to the violence that plagues the African American and hip-hop communities. Sadly, violence personally touched him when a member of his group was killed.
He also started Human Education Against Lies (HEAL) and has been a part of many movements that deal with social justice and development. KRS has released music consistently with BDP as a solo artist and in several collaborations. He has written books and created the Temple of Hip-Hop to study the foundations of the culture. But most of all, he has steadfastly been an advocate and ambassador of the hip-hop music and culture to the world.
If you love great music of any type, you can find something you like in KRS-ONE’s catalog. Even if you can’t, his lectures, books, or even his interviews will give you some food for thought.