KRS-ONE Live @Institute Birmingham JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT, C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“Let’s redo America’s infrastructure, beginning with the mirror, let’s start this summer…” KRS-One, From The Beginning Again, 2015

I had a question for KRS-One regarding this track at the q&a session earlier that day, and never got that chance. I wanted to know how he felt about the UK infrastructure… and I guess that would have been another show altogether. Prior to this, I heard the stories, that KRS hold nothing back on his shows and keeps it 100% Hip Hop. Not only did I want to find out for myself, but to see if anyone had the grapefruits to call the Teacha a ‘sellout’ because he was seemingly defending Afrika Bambaatta.

KRS ONE BHAMAs always massive props to VJ EDoubled & Mad Flow for warming up the set. What sets them apart from other DJ/MCs is they don’t just play the dope 90s hip hop anthems, they also bring their comedic antics and wit to the turntables. Notable moments were Edoubled teasing the crowd and locking off Pharoahe Monch’s Simon Says at the precise moment, exposing the crowd’s inability to recite classic lyrics and threatening to play some Drake… even though that was met with emphatic NO’S from the crowd, (and that was women alone!) it didn’t stop Edoubled spinning a bit of George Michael with Mad Flow freestyling over it! Edoubled will play pop tunes without hesitation all for the sake of entertainment and you cannot hate on that!

Massive shout out to the Break Mission dance crew , they stepped their b-boy game up knowing the Blastmaster was in the building. Shout out to Birmingham’s own Malik of MD7 & RTKal who never disappointed with his short set and a stellar performance, particularly when he went in with ‘A Dream Within A Dream’. He probably meant that literally and figuratively sharing the same stage with one of the greatest hip hop pioneers.

How does KRS cram in a 30+ year career into a 2 hour set? The only way he knew how. Storming the set with his biggest hits – Step Into A World, MCs Act Like They Don’t Know and South Bronx respectively, taking Break Mission’s skills to the limits, then demonstrating the true art of hip hop: freestyling off the dome, here he cleverly rhymes about the crowd filming him (myself included) and not coming to just enjoy the show but puts a twist on it, encouraging the crowd to film him as he speaks about technology ruining our society.

A great moment in the show occurred when KRS went full Teacha mode with ‘American Flag’, another great chess move here, 100% of the crowd were fully in tune with the lyrics spoken in the record, but the unfortunate likelihood might be that 85% of fans may not be aware of the new album ‘Now Hear This’ of which the track is featured, unless of course they purchased the physical copy of the album on the way out.

KRS channels his Caribbean upbringing in the track ‘Invaders’, he knew given the UK’S musical diversity and his audience’ most of which in the building have already celebrated their 25th birthday – he would be able to capture the vibe.

With all the hostility against the police in recent times, it’s no wonder that when the sirens hit and it was the Sound of Da Police, the roof blew off the Birmingham Institute… KRS closes his epic two-hour set by and dropped a freestyle off the dome uplifting not only his black people but also his white people as well, and it ended with him not even speaking in the mic and declaring himself a ‘just turned 50 year old.’

KRS ONE TELL EM

PRESS: Why don’t you have bodyguards, you know, like the other guys do?

GHOSTFACE KILLAH: Because I don’t need them muthaf***as. God is my Bodyguard… (The Pretty Toney Album, 2004)

Usually the performer will bow their head and say peace to the crowd, not KRS. His final words were ‘I’m coming into the crowd and taking pictures with everybody!’ Not a bodyguard or security in sight, KRS embraced the crowd in a Selfie frenzy. Yes this is the same man who earlier in the night said ‘technology is ruining our society’… he is right in one sense, because today I scroll my news feed and I see people turning their backs on KRS for his remarks on Afrika Bambaatta. But I can say this: If those same people said that on social media were in the Birmingham Institute, they were killing themselves just to get a selfie with the legend. I’ll leave you with that thought.

On This Night, KNOWLEDGE REIGNED SUPREME OVER NO-DOUBTEDLY EVERYONE.

 

 

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INTIMATE Q&A WITH KRS-ONE @Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham UK JULY 14, 2016

REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT – C.E.O. OF RePPiN4U

“When you walk up to opportunities door, don’t just knock it… kick that b!tch in, smile and introduce yourself…” Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

On this day, that very quote was learned on many levels. Over here in the UK, especially in the West Midlands, we often gripe about our promoters not getting artists to perform in Birmingham. More often than not they usually appear in London and not everybody can get down there due to priorities and commitments. B.U.T. an event like this??? All that is thrown out the window. Miss an event like this, it’s on you. But fear not, RePPiN4U was in attendance, and captured a third of the show on camera.

krs one qa

I say a third because it’s a minor gripe I had with the show. It was meant to start at 3pm on the dot, and even BPT (Black People Time) was not to blame for this – Black People were at the Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham waiting from 2:36pm! A man such as KRS-One with so much knowledge to give to the people, two hours isn’t long enough. The Teacha turned up on stage an hour later. Not his fault but the organizers. It wasn’t like the audience grew impatient – they didn’t at all, but if it was our new Prime Minister Theresa May, if she begins her speech at 3pm, SHE BEGINS at 3pm and not a minute later.

God bless the blastmaster – before the session began he notified the journalist and the audience that he can ramble on so feel free to cut him at any given time… again, a pioneer such as KRS-One, you DON’T want to cut him out of respect, and he’s that guy that belongs in a small club of people who you could listen to all day and hang on to his every word.

Some of the things KRS speaks on, fans may already know, but to hear it live and in person is such a pleasure to behold. Highlights include his humble beginnings as a homeless person who sought help from his social worker who turned  out to be a hip hop fanatic, going on to form Boogie Down Productions. Then he went on to break down the concept of his first album ‘Criminal Minded’, the impact of the song ‘South Bronx’, and how Brooklyn was heavily habited by people of all Caribbean backgrounds which explains the influence in his music.

A particular favourite moment of mine was when he told a story of how his mother raised a young Lawrence Krishna Parker. He and his brother were playing basketball in the neighbourhood, when a taller, older kid confronted him and tried to bully him off the court, not only did a young Lawrence stand up to him, but he also defended himself and sent the bully home crying. In a twist, his moms would collar him for fighting with fists, but rather, fight with words, and it has become something he learned later in life as did I when he told the story.

Another great subject he spoke on added on from the #BlackLivesMatter movement. KRS brought up a good point that today’s 20-year old hip hop artist will come with an anthem which addresses that and will be remembered for years or decades to come and he guaranteed it. There has been a lot of great tracks that have come out recently in light of the events of Philando Castle and Alton Sterling, but mostly from established artists in which have been featured in recent RePPiN4U Hip Hop Radio shows on Wild1 Radio / BDSIR Network – (cheap plug but it’s not because I pay those bills) so with that said ‘here’s looking at you AFRO’…

He goes on to add-on from what Chris Rock was saying about black actors in Hollywood at the Grammys this year. Awards are given for great films like 12 Years a Slave and Training Day, but not even nominations for powerful films like Malcolm X. Why is that?

But the moment which everybody had paid their £5 for had come with the Afrika Bambaatta controversy. The audience’s ears were wide open for this, and KRS knew this subject would come up without coming up, it started from a question from a young lady in the audience regarding sexual violence in hip hop, and it led to this. KRS stands by his statement about not caring less because it was accusations and nothing to do with Bambaatta as a hip hop icon but as a human being, but went on to say if proven guilty Bambaatta would be dealt with. Here the journalist tried to challenge him but KRS was fully prepared. The journalist admitted defeat as she turned to the audience for another question to which the audience had to applaud KRS-One’s resiliency.

krs one police jewel

Which brings us to the epilogue of this review. The other minor gripe I had was that the event was unintentionally misleading. It was titled a ‘Q&A’ session. On a fans perspective, we felt we did not get the opportunities to ask the MC who is 1,2,3,4,and 5 questions (myself included), only two did, and they got an exclusive DVD of KRS’ teachings, this was because the host journalist may have gotten carried away with her questions which seemed 5 minutes long for the Teacha to digest. On a journalist standpoint, you have one of the greatest minds in hip hop history sitting opposite you, you will seize that opportunity to show your intelligence and ask him questions after all the research done and to her credit she did a tremendous job, but to fans it felt more of an intimate interview with KRS-One than a Q&A session and the journalist may have been out to establish herself, to that I cannot blame her – I would do the same. Also to her credit she may have covered subjects which we the audience would have asked him anyway.

Going back to Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s quote, an event like this may not happen for a long time, especially with an MC who made his 7th visit to the UK. Not much when you consider a veteran with a 30+ year musical career whereas other MCs have come to the UK more times who have been in the game not even half as much.

Props to Punch Records and Birmingham Music Scene for putting this together. Here is hoping for more events like this in the future.