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Music / KRS-One

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So... you're a philosopher?

Allow me to include I have a very stable mood
Poetic education of a high altitude
I'm not an MC, so listen, call me poet or musician
A genius when it comes to making music with ambition
—"Criminal Minded"

KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, born Lawrence "Kris" Parker, August 20, 1965) is an American hip-hop artist known for his use of philosophical and socially conscious themes in his music.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and left home at the age of sixteen to become an MC, and eventually came to live in a homeless center. While there he began doing graffiti using the moniker KRS-One, and also while there he met Scott Sterling, a.k.a. DJ Scott LaRock, with whom he would eventually form the hip hop group BDP (Boogie Down Productions). In 1987 the duo released their debut album Criminal Minded, an album widely considered to be one of the best in hip-hop history.

Then, in 1987, DJ Scott LaRock was fatally shot in an altercation with a local gang, profoundly affecting the young KRS-One. He would go on to release the album By All Means Necessary, a markedly different album from Criminal Minded that would cement his image as a more thoughtful hip-hop artist, in stark opposition to many artists of the day. Future records would become increasingly more political as he adopted the moniker The Teacha, a name he took up in keeping with what he viewed as his place in hip-hop, to teach people.

In 2008 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from BET as a pioneer of hip-hop music and for his efforts with Stop The Violence, a movement named for its goal of stopping the violence in hip hop.

KRS-One albums

With Boogie Down Productions:

  • Criminal Minded (1987)
  • By All Means Necessary (1988)
  • Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop (1989)
  • Edutainment (1990)
  • Live Hardcore Worldwide (1991)
  • Sex and Violence (1992)


  • Return of the Boom Bap (1993)
  • KRS-One (1995)
  • I Got Next (1997)
  • The Sneak Attack (2001)
  • Spiritual Minded (2002)
  • Prophets Vs. Profits (2002)
  • Kristyles (2003)
  • Keep Right (2004)
  • Life (2006)
  • Hip Hop Lives (w/Marley Marl) (2007)
  • Adventures in Emceein (2008)
  • Maximum Strength (2008)
  • Survival Skills (w/Buckshot) (2009)
  • Meta-Historical (w/True Master) (2010)
  • Godsville (w/Showbiz)(2011)
  • Royalty Check (w/Bumpy Knuckles) (2011)
  • The BDP Album (2012)
  • The World Is MIND (2017)

"Tropes Reign Supreme Over Nearly Everyone":

  • An Aesop: When in "The Teacha" mode, KRS does raps like "Love's Gonna Getcha" (not letting materialism get the best of you), "Jimmy" (use a condom to avoid STDs), "Beef" (meat is bad, consider vegetarianism) or "Stop The Violence" (Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
  • And I Must Scream: Can't Wake Up (I'm a Blunt) details KRS-One having a nightmare where he is a blunt and feels the physical sensation of being smoked. No matter what he tries, he can't wake up, even as he moves in his sleep.
  • Album Title Drop: Played with on Ghetto Music: The Blueprint Of Hip Hop. Three tracks make up the title... "Ghetto Music", "The Blueprint" and (somewhat) "Hip Hop Rules".
  • Art Imitates Art: For the cover of By All Means Necessary, KRS strikes the famous pose of Malcolm X looking out the window while holding a gun.
  • As the Good Book Says...: In "Blackman in Effect", KRS-One quotes Matthew 7:1 in the King James Version of The Bible.
  • The Atoner: He became this to some extent after the death of his partner Scott LaRock, releasing numerous albums decrying the ubiquitous presence of violence in hip-hop.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The point of the song Love's Gonna Getcha.
  • Big Applesauce
    • Bronx Rage: "South Bronx" dissed the Juice Crew for claiming that rap started in Queens instead of in the Bronx.
  • Bigot with a Badge: "Sound of Da Police" criticizes bigoted cops who engage in institutionalized racism, profiling, and brutality against the black community, and act like they own it, comparing them to plantation overseers who beat slaves.
  • Boastful Rap: Does this sometimes.
-> Im not saying Im Number 1, oops, sorry I Lied!
-> Im Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5!
  • Call-Back: He frequently references lines from older songs in newer ones, such as his callback to The Bridge Is Over and My Philosophy on his verse for The Anthem.
  • The Casanova: Scott La Rock, in "Super Hoe"
  • Catchphrase: Quite a few, most notably "Di-di di-da, di di-di, dida di-day!"
    • "FRESH for [insert year here], ya SUCKAAAAS!"
  • Charity Motivation Song: KRS and his Stop The Violence Movement put together "Self Destruction", which featured rappers like Kool Moe Dee, Stetsasonic, Public Enemy, Heavy D, MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh rapping about combatting black-on-black violent crime.
  • Divine Race Lift: In "Why Is That?", KRS presents the argument that early Biblical figures were actually black, such as Shep and Abraham among others.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Illegal Business"
  • Duck Down!
  • Fun with Acronyms: Inverted, since "KRS-ONE" stands for ''Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone," though it originally meant "Kris #1"
  • The Golden Age of Hip Hop
  • Medley: The video for "Return Of The Boom Bap" is actually a promo for the entire album, with almost all of the tracks mixed together. The "I Can't Wake Up" portion was Bowdlerised to remove the "blunt" references. (KRS makes that known loud and clear in the video.)
  • N-Word Privileges: Though he doesn't use it that often, save to prove a point (like in "House Niggas").
  • Nightmare Sequence: "I Can't Wake Up" (As in, "I'm a blunt getting smoked and I can't wake up!")
  • Poetry: "Poetry"
  • Police Brutality: "Sound Of Tha Police". KRS even goes so far as to compare police officers to slave drivers.
  • Political Rap
  • Rap Metal: Dipped into this with "Just To Prove A Point" on the I Got Next album.
    • An earlier example: the use of AC/DC's "Back In Black" on "Dope Beat" (off Criminal Minded).
  • Rated G for Gangsta: A bit of a variation: one of the creators of Hardcore Hip Hop, he made one of the genre's defining albums with Criminal Minded, but went through a bit of a spiritual crisis after his friend and DJ Scott LaRock was murdered. His music eventually became a lot less gangsta and a lot more Christian: he actually released an album called Spiritual Minded.
  • Rearrange the Song: There are many tracks where you'll hear some familiar melodies sung by KRS:
    • "Criminal Minded" kicks off with a take on "Hey Jude".
    • "The Bridge Is Over" spoofs "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me" at the end.
    • There's a little ode to "Ebony & Ivory" at the start of "100 Guns".
    • The chorus in "Jimmy" is sung to the tune of Wings' "Let 'Em In".
    • The hook to "Drug Dealer" is a take on "This Old Man".
  • Red Baron: "The Blastmaster" and "The Teacha".
  • Refuge in Audacity: The music video for "Real Terrorism", his collaboration with rapper Greenie, drew controversy for featuring some very... graphic images of U.S. atrocities throughout history.
  • The Rival: He and MC Shan could be considered this.
  • Sampling: "Dope Beat" uses AC/DC's "Back in Black".
    • "Ya Slippin'" samples "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple.
  • Shout-Out: One to Nas with his album Hip Hop Lives.
  • Take That!: To several members of the Juice crew on Criminal Minded, most notably on the song "The Bridge Is Over". More recently with Nelly, though they have apparently quelled the beef for the most part.
  • Warrior Poet: He is very much a part of the hip-hop battle scene, as his beefs with the Juice Crew and Nelly have become things of legend. That said, he almost always has a tendency to return to his political and philosophical roots.
  • Wham Line: "You Must Learn (Remix)" traces thousands of years of "ignorance, stupidity and tears" as all leading to the definitive horror of the 20th Century:
    "According to his idiotic spoutin'
    The purest whites were from the Caucus Mountains
    J A Blofener, and H S Chamberlain
    Both supported this outrageous racism
    This went on to what the master race should be
    And why they killed the Jews in Germany"
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: He collaborated with R.E.M., rapping on their single "Radio Song"
    What are you sayin', what are you playin'
    Who are you obeyin', day out and day in?
    Baby, baby, baby BABY! That stuff is drivin' me crazy!

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