at The Middle East
"My Jewel is My Mind"
By Andrés Wilson
Black cornrolls peeked out of a black hoodie and a black outfit; minimalist and Zen like the Buddha nature of the MC to whom they belonged. "You don't see no bling-bling on me", the grand sensei of hip-hop interjected in between choruses of one of his anthems, "that's because I'm free and my jewel is my mind", he added to the erratic applause of a crowd with more color diversity than a gay flag.
KRS-One pummeled the stage of the Middle East downstairs with a sonic assault of hip-hop and old-school rhymes. He exhorted the DJ to spin just the exact groove screaming from a husky voice "darkah! Make that sh-t really dark!!!" KRS inculcated the history of hip-hop and its mantras into the sub-consciences of the college-aged audience. Surrounded by a billboard with the faces of hip-hop pioneers like Big Daddy Kane, Heavy-D, Tupac and Biggie Smalls (The Notorious B.I.G. to all you post P-Diddy rap fans), KRS-One also reminded his eager audience of Queen Latifah's impact as an MC, long before she would embarrass the black community by accepting roles in which she brought the minstrel show into the new millennium (i.e. Bringing Down the House).
"The Teacher", as he has come to be known within the hip-hop community for his fervent proselytizing and preachy nature, used his entire concert as a commentary and critique of hip-hop itself. Stating several times the differences between hip-hop and rap, "rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live," and outlining the central tenets to the hip-hop movement; "peace, love, unity, and having fun if you aren't doing these things, what your doing isn't hip-hop". His exhortations and rigid definitions of hip-hop greatly wore on, although the beats were second to none. KRS-One employed a fine DJ, well versed in the primordial sexuality of break-beats, and his extended scratch solo sent the crowd into naughty seizures.
Look past the preaching and the characteristic tirades on what hip-hop was, and should be, and bear witness to an MC of rare form, able to exalt the most banal subject matter, like playing in the street with siblings or the value of friendship, into high art through word play and rhythmic displacement. With his huge and animated beady eyes and friendly demeanor, KRS establishes himself on a stage as an MC's MC, with a skill for both word play and bravado. Equally adept at crafting Sesame Street-esque raps with a moral as "I'm the hardest MC in the world" hip-hop chutzpah, on Friday March 25, KRS-One performed for an audience who hung on his every word.
performing underground, the entire audience shouted along, exploding on the
chorus when KRS yells "if you're listening to me then your UNDERGROUND".
Boston has a thriving hip-hop scene with artists such as Mr. Lif and calling
the city of chowdah and hahvahd their home. And it is easy to see that, the
charismatic teacher of Afro-America's latest historic offering to the cultural
melting pot, has either intentionally of not affected a whole new generation