40 Years of Hip Hop

Before I started the 40 years of Hip Hop documentary, I decided to look up who KRS One was because up until now I have not heard anything about him or his music. I learned that his name stands for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone and ever since he was a young boy he was interested in philosophy. At first, I thought his name was a bit interesting but once I started listening to him talk his name became very fitting. In the documentary, 40 years of Hip Hop, KRS One begins by asking the question of what makes one a hip hop scholar.

Typically, when people think of a scholar one thinks of someone who puts in many hours to study their craft. Based off that knowledge, I assumed a hip hop scholar was one who listens and breathes music when in actualiyy it is way more than that. However, KRS One made a point that certain subjects can be observed objectively but some things, such as hip hop, take cultural knowledge, which is something that is never objective or taught but rather given or destined within us. Also, he began to define scholarship and how it was more than talent and skill. He talked about scholarship focuses on how you think and how you approach life and requires courage, time, and love. KRS mentioned several times that hip hop is more than music or a subject that is studied by more so it is something contained in us as a culture.

A hip hop scholar is one that feels hip hop all the time and is hip hop at all times regardless if it is popular or not. He stated that no external information is needed to understand hip hop because we are the culture. In literal terms, he stated that hip means awareness and hip meant movement. I never really thought about the literal meanings of the words hip and hop but it really opened up my eyes to the movement hip hop had in history and how it was used. KRS was saying that hip hop was a collective consciousness. One line that really stuck out to me was when he said for one to be able to see the truth they have to be true or the truth as well.

At first, I was expecting to learn more about hip hop in a musical sense but KRS brought up deeper concepts regarding hip hop in ways I have never considered. KRS One touched on the idea of how public schooling is just a system that teaches us how to respond reflexively to authority. I never really connected the similarities between the influences of public schooling and hip hop. In public schools, people are always being taught the white history instead of the right history. KRS stated that Dutch knowledge does not match up with cultural and self knowledge because it is something that was forced upon us and made up by invaders that are trying to teach us how we should think rather than letting us think on our own. Later on in the documentary, he mentioned the people who are in power are only in power because they taught us to make us believe they are in power.

In the early days around the 70s, people were getting beat and hurt for hip hop by people who were not from the culture. KRS One said that one problem with trying to learn culture is by trying to learn it from someone who stole or who is not part of the culture themselves.

Keely Ongos-Cole

Keely Ongos-Cole

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