It may be tough for some to fathom, but there was a time in which hip hop did not exist.
Bronx native Kris Parker actually remembers that time period vividly.
“I remember telling my mother in the late 1970s there is this new thing on the block, and it’s called hip hop,” he said. “At one point, there was only one person able to cut, mix and scratch, and manipulate the turntable, and that was Grandmaster Flash.”
But following a dream and finding his own good fortune, Parker – better known as KRS-One – became one of the pillars for which the hip hop music genre was founded.
As important as KRS-One’s contribution to hip hop, the legendary emcee has expertly finessed it into lectures at renowned institutions like Harvard and Yale, or motivational speaking engagements such as the one held Saturday at Conway High School.
Dozens gathered in the school’s gymnasium to get their dose of knowledge, the hip hop legend serving as keynote speaker at a “Bringing Back the Village” event hosted by 100 Black Men of Myrtle Beach, 98.5 KISS FM, Upward, the Horry County Police Department and a host of other organizations.
According to one of the event’s organizers, Tony Pryor, the purpose of the event was to recognize those who had made a difference in the lives of people in their respective communities, as well as bring focus to the ever-pressing for an adoption of the “village mentality.”
“It takes a village to raise a child,” he said. “Parents, we got a lot of these grown-ups doing the grown-up thing; children listen to them, they know what they’re talking about. Kids you also have to do your thing … if someone is older than you and telling you something positive, listen to them.”
Area talents were given the stage to showcase their musical prowess during the event, but most were there for an opportunity to hear what KRS-One had to say.
Instead of giving an in-depth look at his musical career he went a totally different route, choosing to use world history as a means to illustrate how the village concept has broken down through the centuries.
“Ancient Kush didn’t like itself, but ancient Egypt did … that’s why it succeeded. The reason why black people are in the position they’re in today is because we disrespect our own heritage,” KRS-One said. “My own people don’t want knowledge in mathematics, astronomy and the like. Black people tend not to like black people, and that’s why there is no village.
“We don’t believe in villages … and it seems cool to say, but who is really down with it? Who is willing to give up a career, a family and purpose to form a village? Ain’t nobody doing that; so let’s stop talking about it, unless you’re willing to start a new civilization on this earth.”
He also challenged popular notions in religion and death itself.
“We need the truth before we can truly move forward,” KRS One said. “There is no death … when you believe that you will begin to become a village. You forever have access to your ancestors. There is no time or space in the spirit, nothing but you.”
In the end, however, the hip hop legend emphasized the need for an education, using his own struggles with the French language as an example of its importance.
“Hip hop has taken me around the world, but because I didn’t take advantage of free French classes in grade school I wound up paying $25,000 for a translator when I went to France several years ago,” KRS-One said. “You pay for your ignorance, our children need a world of knowledge. If adults don’t have faith in their children, there is no village … you are in complete control of your children’s existence.”