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ONE Seizes New Ways for Rap to Work with Major Brands The godfather of hip hop isn't about to retire yet. Digital Journal Don't call KRS ONE a sellout. Sure, he might be joining forces with Smirnoff for nike sb shoes the vodka company's hiphop mix series. Sure, Nike commissioned the rap legend to collaborate on the track "Better Than I've Ever Been" to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Air Force One sneakers. But KRS ONE doesn't take nike elite kindly to over arching statements about corporations infiltrating hip hop for their own greedy ambitions. If there's anyone who has seen hip hop grow, mature and eat itself, it's KRS ONE. Born Kris Parker and raised in Brooklyn, he began his career as founder of Boogie Down Productions in the mid 1980s, winning attention for his politically conscious lyricism that earned him the nickname "the Teacher." His Edutainment album with BDP espoused diplomacy over gun violence, but it was his first solo album Return of the Boom Bap that secured him a place in hip hop's Hall of Street Game. nike lebron The lyrics were thoughtful ("No politician can give you peace/ If you trust Jesus, why do you vote for a beast?") and the songs' beats were heavy and inventive. Tracks like "I Can't Wake Up" and "Outta Here" set a benchmark for other artists to emulate. When hip hop went gangsta and then subsequently bling heavy, KRS ONE hung in there. Along the way, he founded the Stop the Violence Movement to promote crime free living in New York, while also creating the Temple of Hip Hop, which offers information on hip hop history and the various elements that make up this powerful music form. KRS acts as the school's principal, giving interested hip hop heads some of his knowledge about how people can live a hip hop lifestyle and not just listen to it. As the website states: "KRS ONE has consistently taught the Hip Hop community to think of itself beyond entertainment and more as a specific culture of new people in the world." Like any preacher who doesn't want to get off the pulpit just yet, the 42 year old MC is hungry to deliver his philosophies, whether on hip hop or American culture. Musically, KRS recently released two new albums, including one with another hip hop forefather, Marley Marl. Politically, KRS is active in battling poverty stricken areas, meeting with New Jersey mayors to discuss high crime rates. He also spoke at an October FCC hearing about radio media concentration and how independent artists get squeezed out of rotations. It's obvious KRS isn't even thinking about retiring. KRS ONE: Today, artists like myself or Chuck D or Talib Kweli hold a degree of credibility that's attracting companies like Red Bull, Cadillac, or Nike. Executives at these companies are our fans. And they are really sick of the state of music. So what they've done is spend $250,000 of their own money, in the case of Nike, to create a song with Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, and KRS ONE. We don't rap about the shoes because they don't want us talking about that. They just want us to create a song they can play on their website. Authenticity is the new business model and these companies need a product that's not destroyed by an artist's shady image. KRS ONE: Exactly. Listen. In our younger years, we hafta have heart. We need to let them know you're on the front lines, but then there should come a time to win the war. The hip hop revolution had to do with balance, so we don't want to get rid of corporations. In the early 90s, Nike gave $99,000 to Gil Scott Heron, but all that money went to the birth of the Temple of Hip Hop. These corporations are laying their money down. Fake ass closet protesters weekend warriors or barroom philosophers talk a good game but the real question is who's going to finance the revolution?