You know…life is funny.
If you don’t repeat the actions of your own success
you won’t be successful.
You gotta know your own formula, your own ingredients,
what made you you.

1987: I was at the Latin Quarters,
listenin’ to Afrika Bambaata give the order.
The call of the order was to avoid the slaughter.
He said, “Record companies ain’t got nuttin’ for ya!”
Without a lawyer he taught The Infinity Lessons
in how hip’hop could be a’ many a blessing.
And that was great. So in 1988,
there was no debate, we had to end the hate.
The name of the game was Stop the Violence
and unity, knowledge, and self-reliance.
We started talkin’ ‘bout Martin and Malcolm.
Had these ghetto kids goin’, “Huh, what about ‘em?”
1989: Professor Griff speaks his mind,
but his freedom of speech is declined.
1990 came with the West coast,
East coast, West coast, who is the best coast?
Lookin’ back now’ of course it was bogus.
The whole argument was where we lost focus.
We got hopeless; not with the lyrics and music
but with hip hop and how we used it,
or abused it. You know how the crew get.
You like it cause you choose it.
1991: We opened our eyes.
With Human Education Against Lies, we tried
to talk about the state of humanity,
but all these others rappers got mad at me.
They called me Captain Human. Another message was sent:
self destruction don’t pay the fuckin’ rent.
Remember that nobody wanted conscious rap.
It was like, “Where these ballers at?
Where can they call us at?” All was wack.
Hip hop culture was fallin’ flat and that was that.
So, in 1992 I found my crew.
They said, “Yo, Kris what you wanna do?”
I said, “Damn, why they wanna get with me?”
If I bust they shit, I’m contradictory.
If I play the bitch role, they take my shoe.
Tell me, what the fuck am I supposed to do?
So I did it. Don’t stop, get it, get it, get it.
All of a sudden these critics they wanna spit it.
“Kay-Are-Ess One is con’tra’dic’to’ry.”
Just ‘cause I wouldn’t let these rappers get with me.
Fuck that. Fuck you, and fuck your pen.
If a rapper wanna dis’…Yo, I’d do it again.
But, I’m makin’ these ends, and I got my friends,
and I really don’t wanna have to sit in the pen.
So, I go back to the philosopher.
1993: Hip hop is uhh…wack
Go back, check the facts.
1994: Return of the Boom Bap.
It wasn’t all about the loot.
It was all about Harry Allen Rhythm Cultural Institute
Blowin’ up.
1995: Conscious rap is still alive,
but nobody wanna play it. Nobody wanna say it.
Nobody okayed it. They’d all rather hate it.
1996: It really don’t stop.
We put together somethin’ called the Temple of Hip Hop.
Not just DJin, breakin, graf, and lyrics
but how hip hop affects the spirit.
Step into a world; that’s what I did.
1997: I was raisin my kid,
or kids. But I had to go,
‘cause New York DJ’s changed the flows
to clothes and hos. But that wasn’t me.
I’ll be damned if I dance for the MTV.
So in 1998 I began to debate.
Should I go now, or should I really wait.
’99: I moved to L.A., you see,
and took a gig with the WB.
Started studying’ philosophy full-time
to have a full heart, full body, full mind.
But you know what the problem is, or was,
DJ’s don’t raise our kids ‘cuz
they so caught up in the cash and jewels.
How they gonna really see a hip hop school?
How they gonna really see a hip hop temple?
They don’t even wanna play my instrumentals; but
big up Dr. Dre, Snoop, Xzibit.
Especially Xzibit, he was there in a minute.
Mic Conception, all of them said,
“Yo you need help?” I should call them.
When I was in L.A., I held the crown.
Bloods, Crips, they held me down.
I could never forget Mad Lion, killer pride
with the gat in the lap in the low-ride.
Oh I can’t forget Icy Ice, Lucky Lou,
Julio G, that was the crew.
Davey D, Ingrid, David Connor,
the list goes on and on. Let me tell ya.
FredWreck and my man Protest,
much respect, no less.
To my spiritual and mental defenders,
big up to L.A. temple members.
But in 2000, I seen how I wanted to live.
I wasn’t no executive.
So I picked up the mic and I quit my job.
Said to Simone, “I gotta get with God.”
She said, “Don’t worry ‘bout these dollars and quarters.
Record companies ain’t got nuttin’ for ya.”
Damn, she took me back to Bam,
took me back to who I am,
brought me back to the New York land.
Now I overstand.

{Interviewer} Now, KRS-One, now you’ve been quoted as saying that rap is something we do, hip hop is something you live.
{KRS} Yes!
{Interviewer} Explain that to us please.
{KRS} Well, well, today hip hop, we are advocating that hip hop is not just a music, it is an attitude, it is an awareness, it is a way to view the world. So, rap music is something we do, but hip hop is something we live. And we look at hip hop in it’s nine elements: which is breakin’, emceein’, graffiti art, deejayin’, beatboxing, street fashion, street language, street knowledge, and street entrepreneurialism, trade and business. And uhh, that’s where y’know, that’s the hip hop that, that, that we’re about. We come from the uhh the root of, of Kool DJ Herc, who originated hip hop in the early 70’s, and then Afrika Bambaata and Zulu Nation who instigated something called The Infinity Lessons and added consciousness to hip hop, and then Grandmaster Flash with the invention of the mixer, on to Run D.M.C., and then myself. And uhh, we created the Stop the Violence movement. You may recall a song, Self Destruction and, and, and so on. All of this goes to uhh, uhh, the idea of living this culture out and taking responsibility for how it looks and, and acts in society.


Lyrics submitted by Totoro

Hip-Hop Knowledge song meanings
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