In the Spring of 2009, Johnny and I had the honor of tagging along with the one and only KRS-One for a few days as he conducted business in and around Los Angeles. We filmed everything with a camcorder, piling up hours and hours of tape, some of which was damaged and then restored. For almost five years now, we’ve been picking at the massive project, here and there. Slowly but surely it’s been evolving. Finally, it’s ready.
Hip Hop is so much more than a genre of music. And it’s so much more than the rap scene. Hip Hop is a movement, a powerful and beautiful one that grew up with my generation. I know it through music, but I also know it through the culture I was raised in through the 1980s in Philadelphia, and I know it through Hip Hop’s elders, its historians, its teachers. Of those, one stands above the rest as “The” Teacha, and that’s KRS-One. If Hip Hop is astrophysics, then KRS is our Carl Sagan, or our Neil DeGrasse Tyson… if only they had been around for the Big Bang.
Ed Piskor’s wonderful and fun Hip Hop Family Tree comics series is another way to know Hip Hop. Following his serial installments at Boing Boing has been one of the inspirations keeping me motivated to get this piece finished. We’ve been fortunate to actually get Ed involved in the project this year.
In this 30-minute documentary, KRS breaks down what Hip Hop culture really is, what it isn’t, and how it all came about. His stories are illustrated by Ed Piskor’s awesome (and accurate!) work, and we’ve also dug up tons of footage and clips from the early days of Hip Hop.
If you want to know Hip Hop, If you are Hip Hop, if you want to be Hip Hop… Here’s a good place to start.
KRS-One’s Temple Of Hip Hop is a real thing, a ministry, archive, school, and society created by KRS-One. To learn more, see KRS’ website.
Volume 1 of Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree graphic novel is available now. Volume 2, due out on August 1st, is available for pre-order. We can’t recommend these enough, to any comics fans or Hip Hop fans out there. Huge thanks to Ed for working with us on this project. Follow all of Ed’s work over at edpiskor.com.
P.S. One of the tapes’ audio was too badly damaged to use in the documentary, but we did our best to salvage this powerful discussion on the state of police (or the police state?) and get it uploaded to YouTube for posterity.