“I think rap, not being an art form, it might be a little bit too heavy, at times, for me, you know,” he says, before going into the story of Jay-Z and his relationship with Nas. “It’s not so much that it’s about the lyrics as much as it’s about the fact that you’re dealing directly with these people, and for me in Jay’s case, I mean, just dealing directly with my own family, all his children, and seeing that they know about this music as well.”
While KRS has also said in the past that he believes hip-hop had a role to play in the recent deaths of fellow artists, including Tupac and Biggie Smalls (who also had a song about being shot in the head), his comments today are the first he’s made to indicate that hip-hop could be responsible.
“Just like it affects the art that other art forms like ballet and opera, you know, music and art are, you know, a way of life,” he says. “They create a way of life in the different countries and different cultures. It’s all the same thing. And so it just affects the culture and that’s what matters more than any other thing.”
Still, there are limits to rap’s ability to address social issues, he says, noting, “I think to some degree, all these issues, especially the economic one, it just comes down to the business side of things. You have to be able to compete like other artists do.”
He goes on to say that he’s concerned some rappers would “want to do something that would be a little bit disrespectful to the police or that would cause people who are involved with these issues to feel threatened.” Then there’s the issue of celebrity endorsements and how this can affect a person’s reputation, which could potentially be a hindrance given the high-profile cases involving Lil Wayne and Diddy (who received a call from Tupac at the time of Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’s shooting in 2009).
Despite all of this, KRS says he doesn’t feel the media need to change its ways, adding that he believes that the internet has taken a huge bite out of that. “If every rap song you heard, you could take out the lyrics, all of these things, you know, ‘Get out my city, let’s go, we’ll do what we wanna do.’ Well, that’s what happened in