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Posted by big news 
September 08, 2005 06:22PM

Peace and much love, after witnessing the tragic events surrounding the aftermath of Huricane Katrina, I like many of you had questions reguarding what the Hip Hop community should be doing to help our own people. Amidst the overwhelming volume of information on the Internet concerning Katrina I realized that most leaders, weather community or federal first reacted with blame. While there is no doubt in my mind that the federal government was slow and inadequate, it left me wondering why do we the Hip Hop community continue to look for answers and relief from sources outside our community? Shouldn’t we be able to take care of the needs of our own people? With these questions and many more on my mind I met up with the Teacha KRS-ONE on the road.

This interview was conducted on September 2nd 2005 with the Teacha in Detroit Michigan after a huge concert in the park. The subject was Hurricane Katrina and the events that followed.

ZIN-URU- Peace. I’m pleased to see you again. It is truly an honor to sit and talk with you.

KRS-ONE- Peace. The honor is mine.

ZIN- There’s been talk in the Rap community about benefit concerts and celebrity telethons to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. What’s your take on this?

KRS- Well, I’m not sure if this is the right approach to the crisis facing the Hip Hop communities of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. I understand what many are trying to do. And it is noble for anyone right now to try and do something. However, I think we need a more targeted approach; a more specified plan if we are to really save our people.

ZIN- We are truly living in historic times. New Orleans is gone! Even when it is rebuilt in the future it will NEVER be the same New Orleans again. And of course, the same goes for the Mississippi coast-line. In fact, the whole United States of America will never be the same again.

KRS- But should it be? Should we be looking for the return of the same old U.S.A. or even the same old New Orleans after such an enormous natural disaster? And I know in this time of grief and utter confusion that this is not the time to speak on the deep spiritual implications of this natural disaster. I know that such complaints and conspiracy theories about the United States testing weather warfare equipment, or that the levee in New Orleans may have been purposely sabotaged in a terrorist attack, or that the Constitution has been suspended in New Orleans, or the inefficiency of mainstream Black leadership, or the many global warming warnings, or even the slowness of the Federal government to respond in this time of crisis may not be the focus at this time right now.

ZIN- But what is the focus? What should we be focused upon right now?

KRS- Well, first let us define WE. WE means OUR. It means US. So, what is it that creates US? Answer? Shared interests. The concept of WE, US or OUR is born out of shared experiences amongst a specific group of people. These people share interests that are directly related to their unique experiences. In fact, these people are even defined by the rest of the world according to their collective experiences (history). Now Hurricane Katrina has displaced over 2 million people and a large percentage of the displaced are clearly part of the Hip Hop community. THESE ARE OUR PEOPLE! This is OUR “WE”, Hip Hop Kulture. Not Black folk. Not White folk. Not Asians, Native Americans or Mexicans; but HIP HOP! This is our WE. This is our US. Hip Hop is US!

ZIN- But in this time of crisis isn’t everyone responsible for themselves?

KRS- Yes, everyone must govern themselves. Everyone must help and take good care of themselves and their own. The Feds can and will help but the total restoration of one’s life now and forever will rests in the hands of one’s self.

ZIN- So how can you attempt to help others when you feel that people should help themselves? How do you stay motivated to do for others? What is the balance of such a philosophy?

KRS- Well, it starts with what you believe. I am interested in the survival and further development of Hip Hop because Hip Hop is connected to my own survival and well-being. When I do for others I am doing for myself. And when I do for myself I am doing for Hip Hop because ultimately I am Hip Hop! And the way in which I preserve Hip Hop is by preserving the Hiphoppa. Not on some separatist level of understanding, but on a “taking care of your own” level of understanding; recognizing one’s own responsibility to make one’s own interests a reality.

ZIN- So what do you believe? What is KRS-ONE’s faith?

KRS- I believe God. I believe that Hip Hop is a specific world culture. I believe that true Hip Hop is about peace, love, unity and safely having fun. However, everyone does not agree with me on this and that’s cool. Only a specific group of Hiphoppas feel this way about Hip Hop anyway. These are OUR people. Not that other Hiphoppas with other interests in other messages should be turned away from real help, but real life changing help is specific. It’s one-on-one. It’s personal. It is not advertised; it is searched for. It’s not about trying to help the most amount of people; it’s about hitting the target needs of YOUR people with YOUR specific offering.

ZIN- This distinction is important because in this time of crisis everyone wants to do everything, but everyone is not qualified to do everything. Everyone cannot be everywhere. So how do you organize a scene like that?

KRS- If we (the Hip Hop community) are truly interested in helping the people affected by Hurricane Katrina we must get specific in our help. We must target OUR help toward those that specifically need what we have to offer. Everyone does not need everything. Our Hip Hop community needs specific things to feel normal. The things that an average Hiphoppa growing up in the south needs in order to piece his/her life back together may not be what the Federal government is offering.

ZIN- Explain.

KRS- The Federal Government is known for huge, large spanning operations that focus more upon the preservation of the State than upon any individual person or interest. Therefore, even if the congress approves 100 billion dollars to restore the “State” of New Orleans and the “State” of Mississippi that money will go toward the restoration of the “State” not the rehabilitation of the “People”. Especially not OUR people. No government can fulfill your purpose. No amount of money can help you forget the loss of a loved one.

ZIN- So you’re saying that all of what the Federal government is doing to save lives is not enough?

KRS- Of course not. Yes, we are about to see all kinds of federal programs designed for personal restoration. But the Federal government cannot become interested in the achievement of anyone’s individual purpose. Such is not the job of the Feds. This is the job of faith based organizations, counselors, social workers and teachers. And if I may be specific, if you were seeking a career as an emcee, deejay, etc, in New Orleans or Mississippi or you simply enjoyed practicing your craft; there may be no where for you to go right now to receive any real assistance as far as Hip Hop is concerned. This is why OUR help must be specific to OUR people. Everyone is not interested in a Hip Hop career even if they are African American. We must seek out OUR people and offer the help that THEY may need specifically. The Feds have little to do with this.

ZIN- As you are aware the Hip Hop community has been greatly affected by the events of Hurricane Katrina. Master P is still searching for his missing Father and his wife Sonya has yet to hear from her sister…

KRS- This clearly proves that rap is something that is done, while Hip Hop is something that is lived. This is not about the rap music industry; or about how many CDs Master P has sold. MASTER P CAN’T FIND IS FAMILY! Real people are facing real challenges and they are of OUR Hip Hop community. This is truly a wake up call for everyone that claims to be “true” to Hip Hop. Now it is clear that Hip Hop is beyond entertainment. That even when the music stops playing and the club is totally washed away OUR culture and way of life continues independent of the entire music industry. Suddenly, the truth is so obvious! Every radio station’s play list is out of context right now. Every video played today makes no sense in the lives of real Americans. Yet this has been our reality for years and it’s time to clean this shit up!

ZIN- …And a concert to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina wouldn’t be a start? I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

KRS- Well, I’ll play God’s advocate. I don’t think that this is the time for benefit concerts; THIS IS A TIME FOR REAL LEADERSHIP! We are experiencing matters of life and death! In my opinion a concert is extremely out of context. This is not the time to be shaking our asses! This is a time for ALL true Hip Hop leaders to offer those opportunities that were difficult for the average southerner to obtain like; recording contracts, movie deals, clothing lines, tours where they can work and make some money, or even open up the show. This is a time for all those rappers with 3, 4 and 5 houses to take in a Hip Hop family. Right now we need to think about how we may ease tensions as opposed to flaring them up. Meaning that all radio stations in Houston Texas should adjust their play lists to include more conscious rap music. Those with clothing lines can put a shirt with a conscious message on a needy Hip Hop back.

ZIN- But people will ask aren’t we just reinventing the wheel? Isn’t this a job for the Red Cross?

KRS- Why do we (rappers/emcees) need to give away our resources and do fundraisers for the Red Cross, the National Urban League and others when Congress has already allotted 10 billion in relief funds? Why then do we have to give OUR money to outside sources for them to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves? We need LEADERSHIP! Hip Hop by itself is worth billions annually. Why then are we not organizing OUR own coordinated effort for the relief of OUR own people? Why are we giving money to others when we are in need of that same money ourselves? We can’t allocate $500,000.00 to ourselves for our own relief effort? We couldn’t organize the rescue of OUR own people? This does not make any sense! But this is the issue right here; some of us are still trying to be entertainers and rap stars in this crisis when we need to be a brother or a sister to someone that has just lost their’s. Rap is something we do; Hip Hop is something we live. Therefore, we should be more concerned with a Hiphoppa’s day life than that of a Hiphoppa’s night life. We gotta grow up.

ZIN- …and you believe that targeted and specific assistance is the way to go?

KRS- Yes! Right now people need to fulfill their purpose. They don’t need jobs; they need work! They need to see THEIR future coming into view or they can quickly lose hope in living. This is serious! Something as small as a studio session to an aspiring emcee, or a chance to practice your deejayin, or dancing, or graff skills may seem meaningless to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security but on the ground-level where it really matters such an opportunity to an aspiring emcee, b-boy, DJ, etc is exactly what is needed in this time of struggle. Even a one-on-one conversation with your favorite DJ/rapper/emcee about overcoming life’s hardships and achieving your purpose would also be inspiring to any Hiphoppa in this situation. The point is; how do we get useful and specific help to useful and specific people? It is obvious that we are truly on our own.

ZIN- Right now Hiphoppas are being temporarily transported and housed in Houston Texas. However, there are some concerns about how long Houston can sustain/contain such a large group (over 200,000 people).

KRS- Plus, after the shock of losing everything and being displaced for weeks, people are likely to eventually begin experiencing depression and anxiety, even fear.

ZIN- So what’s your take on this? How would you lead this situation?

KRS- Right now everyone is thinking about getting the displaced into a safe place. And this should clearly be the priority. I’m confident that the Federal government shall do its best. But what is the best for a “federal government?” Answer? A return to “State” normalcy, meaning a restoration of the same conditions that made the people of Mississippi and New Orleans politically weak and unprepared for Hurricane Katrina in the first place. As I see it the number one challenge facing the now 200,000 displaced people in Houston Texas is dependency upon the temporary hand-outs of the Federal government. And their dependency shall stem from OUR own lack of competent leadership.

ZIN- So you don’t trust or approve of the leadership activities underway right now?

KRS- I try not to be critical of those trying to do something. However, it’s funny to me to hear Black leaders criticize President Bush’s slow response to the crisis when they can do NOTHING to remedy the situation themselves. President Bush is not OUR leader; he is the President of the United States. Where are OUR leaders? Who is OUR leader?

ZIN- what about yourself?

KRS- I lead through the Temple of Hiphop. My people hear my voice. And when the time is right Hiphoppas themselves shall call upon me and others and we shall answer the call. But right now my role is to inspire the Hip Hop community to believe in itself beyond entertainment; then we shall be ready for true Hip Hop leadership.

ZIN- But doesn’t President Bush’s slow response to this national crisis demand some criticism from the Hip Hop community? Millions of displaced people (most of them Hiphoppas) are looking for THEIR government to protect them.

KRS- But is this government OUR government? Let’s face it, we did not vote for George W. Bush nor do we agree with his foreign or domestic policies. African American leadership “dissed” both Bushes and spoke out against the war in Iraq. Now we actually expect the Feds to quickly run to OUR aid when they told us to evacuate and many of us didn’t? Come on. We gonna have ta keep it real here. White leadership was slow to act, but Black leadership didn’t act at all! Again, they cried and complained about what someone else didn’t do for them. DAMN! When shall we truly be free? Not freed, but FREE! When will we be able to save ourselves? Teach ourselves? Empower ourselves? Respect ourselves? Govern ourselves?

ZIN- Is this what Hip Hop as culture really means? Self-governance?

KRS- Yes indeed! Because if Hip Hop was organized enough we could have been on the ground rescuing people, policing OUR situation and setting up a more accommodating shelter situation long before the Feds even arrived. But if all we are going to do is drink, dance, fuck and get high then you cannot complain when a government that you don’t support takes its time with the saving of YOUR life! Remember, you can’t dis someone and then expect them to help you. In fact, there’s an old saying that says; “you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you”.

ZIN- And right now President Bush is feeding the Hip Hop community.

KRS- For me, as a grown man with a full family, this is a disgrace! With all of our expensive videos, jewelry, cars, homes and clothes we still can’t even feed our own people in a time of crisis. DAMN! And it’s not like we need 10 billion to do this. And it’s not like we don’t have the money as a community. We simply don’t believe in OURSELVES! We still think that we are just a bunch of entertainers and Hip Hop is just music. Well now look!

ZIN- Wow. From that perspective it does seem kind of pitiful. But what do you suggest to remedy the situation and save lives?

KRS- Well, we cannot “save” everyone, or even help everyone affected by the storm; but we can help a specific group of people within that larger affected group. The group that the Temple of Hiphop will be focused upon will be the Hip Hop activist communities of Texas, Mississippi and New Orleans. This group really needs OUR help. And this group is more likely to help us to help them. This group has valuable information and resources that can help us get organized toward a larger relief effort later on. Not that we should turn anyone away but first let us establish who “OUR” people truly are and not exhaust our resources and planning on those that are not really interested in “Edutainment”. Some people just want something to eat, others something to wear, and even others want some where to live. But many (if not all) are in need of counseling.

ZIN- Equally as important as food, clothing and shelter is counseling. Is this where the Temple of Hiphop comes in?

KRS- Precisely. Right now we are planning ahead. We are focusing upon the holiday seasons of October, November and December when most of the self-esteem, hope and strength to continue on shall begin to weaken. Right when the rest of the country will be celebrating the holidays with family; some 200,000 displaced people shall only be reminded of the family and friends they have lost. The holiday season this year is going to be rough for those families uprooted by Hurricane Katrina. One-on-one counseling will be very much needed. Inspirational messages, life-skills workshops, family and drug counseling will be very much needed in the weeks ahead.

ZIN- So what’s your immediate plan when you and the Temple of Hiphop arrive in Houston Texas?

KRS- Our main mission is to inspire OUR people beyond their losses. The cure for depression, anxiety and even fear is faith. Our people must be inspired to believe in their own abilities to overcome life’s most difficult challenges as opposed to always looking for help from some force outside of themselves. And in no way am I making lite of the horrible conditions and situations that many of OUR people are in. Everyone can use a little help right now. But this is precisely the point. The magnitude of what just occurred in the United States of America forces everyone (especially the now displaced) to re-examine what is important in life and how our lives can be made better by this historic event. Our main focus will be to inspire the Hip Hop community living in temporary housing in Houston Texas to expect more for themselves, do more for themselves and to never get comfortable with the accommodations of the Federal government. And with God’s help we shall succeed!

ZIN- Thanks for your time.

KRS- There it is.

September 08, 2005 06:58PM

thought you left...

September 08, 2005 08:08PM

i thoguht you and krs hated each other now you meet up for friendly chats bullshit
September 08, 2005 09:09PM

yeah godfrey u said u were goin, ahhh sure didnt expect u too, u fuckin love us all even krs1
September 09, 2005 09:11AM



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