The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument
Just as jazz is a uniquely American phenomenon whose sentiment and message resonate with people the world round, so is hip-hop. Hip-hop began as a means by which to illustrate the experiences of people living their daily lives in the ‘hoods of New York. Although the originators of hip-hop, such as the Sugar Hill Gang were instrumental in shedding light on teen pregnancy, drug addiction, and violence it wasn’t until the era of KRS-One that hip-hop evolved to the status of Cultural Revolution. KRS-One, best known as Teacha, brought hip-hop to the mainstream. Although in his early days his work with Boogie Down Productions (BDP) was more violent in nature, after the tragic loss of his BDP partner, DJ Scott LaRock, his work evolved into a peaceable lyrical style that called the masses to confront social ills head on. With his politically savvy, multicultural take on what he was witnessing in his environs he touched upon that longing within us all to be free. Hip-hop is, at its core, about freedom.
Yet, freedom is not free and it is the struggle that is highlighted in The Gospel of Hip Hop. True to its name, the Gospel of hip-hop provides the reader with a good word about the value garnered only by overcoming obstacles. Hip-hop, although invented in America, has become an internationally appreciated musical form because it is more than just music. In this tome KRS-One provides the reader with plenty of teaching on peace and love which breaks down barriers, removes prejudice, and reconciles injustice.
For example, in the opening section, of this book the Teacha states: "But as for us, as for our group commonly known in the World as 'Hip Hop,' this gospel acknowledges and celebrates the Love that has saved OUR people from self destruction. It is time to repent and grow up! Rapping about crime and murder may sound good amongst those who have never committed such acts, but for those of us who are REAL IN THE FIELD, we send this message to our young people—YOU DON’T REALLY WANT IT!"
And on the following page: "For with this first instrument we remember GOD and how we were rescued by unseen forces more powerful than any government on Earth. For when all seemed hopeless and oppression seemed permanent; a caring, protective, nurturing creative force independent of all the World’s political, business, educational and religious institutions, swept through our hearts and homes and we were rescued from sickness, hatred, ignorance and poverty with a behavior that we eventually began to call 'Hip Hop.' And we must NEVER forget this.”
Hip-hop is life, hip-hop is freedom, hip-hop is revolution. KRS-One has brought to light the cure for what ails us all: heart sickness, the residual effect of the subjugation of one group of people by another group of people. Whether those groups are divided by gender, race, religion, socio-economic status, age, or educational attainment they are all expressions of hatred and ignorance. The only solution for which is love. As Al Green so eloquently stated “Love is the message and the message is love”.