KRS-One or Lawrence Kris Parker was born on 20th August,1965 in South Bronx, New York, United States. As an aspiring rapper and artist, he coined the stage name KRS-One; which is an acronym for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.
He was a philosophical young man with constant curiosity for knowledge and spirituality. His early life was however mired with poverty; his mother was a secretary and his father worked odd jobs to make ends meet. KRS-One’s biological father was deported to his native Trinidad when young Kris was an infant. His mother Jacqueline Jones however remarried in 1970 and had two more children. It is at this point that KRS took on his new family names to become Lawrence Kris Parker; his step-father was Jamaican.
The Making of a Legend
At the age of 16, young KRS was looking to explore more opportunities for himself. He left home and started living in the rough streets of the Bronx. He aspired to be an MC and it is around this time that the hip hop culture started emerging and germinating. Kris sought refuge at a male homeless shelter in the Bronx; known as the Franklin Avenue Armory Shelter. The social workers at the shelter nicknamed Kris ‘Krishna’ because of his keen interest in the Hare Krishna religion. Kris became close to one particular social worker named Scott Sterling. This is because they both shared love for hip hop and art; Sterling was a social worker who worked as a DJ/MC during the night.
During his stay at the homeless shelter, Kris became very good in graffiti art and always signed his work as KRS-ONE. Sterling’s stage name was Scott La Rock and together with KRS they decided to form a group in 1984. They recruited two other rappers and named themselves Scott La Rock & The Celebrity Three. The group released their first song called ‘Advance’ that performed poorly. The song veered off from the normal party-themed songs at the time to discuss nuclear war prevention. It was not long before the two additional rappers quit the group. KRS and Scott La Rock formed their own group which they named The Boogie Down Crew. Later, after realising the need to produce their own music, the group name was changed to Boogie Down Productions BDP.
In 1987, BDP released their first album titled Criminal Minded. The album talked about social issues of the day including gang violence in the streets with songs like ‘9mm Goes Bang’. BDP was involved in feuds with other hip hop groups around this time. Unfortunately, Scott La Rock became the victim of street violence when he had gone to arbitrate a dispute unrelated to music feuds. His death dealt a huge blow to the young hip hop group. KRS-One was however determined to continue the work started by the BDP. He released an album in 1988 and engaged in anti violence work as well. At this point, the artist transformed his hardcore image to be viewed as an activist or a teacher; providing young people with wise guidance to help shun street violence.
KRS-One decided to go solo by dropping the Boogie Down Productions label in 1993. His solo debut album was called ‘Return of the Boom Bap’. In the album, the most notable KRS-One top song was ‘Sound of da Police’. He released a second solo album in 1995 where his activism and political angle became more apparent. KRS was best known for infusing Jamaican influences into hip-hop. This blend was previously unknown producing a melodious harmony of cultures. KRS effectively used the Zung gu zung melody in hip-hop. This style was originally associated with dance hall artists like Yellowman a decade before. KRS crafted a new sound that brought together American hip-hop and Jamaican music. KRS had established himself as an underground influence but in 1997, fans were surprised to see him collaborate with mainstream acts such as Puff Daddy. KRS was critical of some radio stations for ignoring underground hip-hop.
Becoming The Teacher
In addition to his involvement in the anti violence movement, KRS-One also became a hip hop icon who shaped the culture therein. KRS founded the Temple of Hip Hop. This is a resource that seeks to promote the values and ideals of hip hop culture. According to this icon, the temple is a ministry, archive, school and society. According to the Temple tenets, there is more to hip hop than meets the eye; it is a culture, religion and a political movement. As a matter of fact, hip hop has been accepted by the United Nations as a religion. Each year, Hip Hop Appreciation Week is celebrated on the third week of May. In addition to bringing more hip hop culture awareness, DJ and MCs as well as other stakeholders are encouraged to play socially conscious hip hop songs while teaching about the culture.
To endorse the work by the Temple of Hip Hop, the Universal Zulu Nation founded the Hip Hop History Month which is November. This month is also recognized. To say that KRS-One has influenced a generation would be an understatement. He embodies the development of hip hop from the ground. Hip hop music that is socially conscious has shaped the lives of many people in a positive manner. KRS has won many awards over the years to recognize his contribution to the music industry. Fans continue to celebrate him through branded merchandise like t-shirts, caps and hoodies. A KRS-One t-shirt is not just stylish but it carries a deeper message for every fan. A KRS-One hoodie is also a fashion statement for fans while celebrating a hip hop icon whose influence has been felt widely.
If you are looking for high quality branded KRS-One merchandise, Custom Creative is a great place to personalize your design. With a wide range of tools to help you create the best design possible, you cannot go wrong. Some people will opt for a BDP t-shirt or hoodie while others might leverage on great images by this hip hop culture icon. This is the best platform where artists and fans can commemorate this living hip hop legend with tasteful, timeless custom designs.