Review: KRS-One @TheJazzCafe London @IAmKRSOne

Know­ledge Reigns Supreme, KRS, KRS-One, simply one of the most com­pel­ling, legit and uncom­prom­ised per­form­ances you’ll ever have the hon­our of bear­ing wit­ness to, hon­estly.

KRS1-01-minThe hun­dred or so acts I’ve happened upon in my life give me some brag­ging rights, but more than any­thing they give me a bench­mark, be it Skinnyman at a beach front bar in Brighton or Kanye on main stage at Glasto, there are levels, and they are not often met.

Pres­ence

The first thing that hits you is a boom­ing free­style, a huge pres­ence com­mand­eer­ing the stage and a fierce grip turn­ing the micro­phone into a truth-chan­nel­ing device. The sound­man can’t keep up, lit­er­ally, whil­st the off-the-dome-35-years-in-the-mak­ing free­style let’s the crowd know we’re in busi­ness. From start to fin­ish the show was high octane, not in an unbear­able way, but a right­eous rebel with a mes­sage kind of way. His son spun the decks, protégé and test­a­ment to the teacher’s pre­ci­sion.  The ven­ue made it intim­ate; we crowded in tightly to hear the ser­mon, and we all left faith­ful.

KRS con­stantly reminded the crowd that we’re not fans, but fam­ily. His wife brought down a cake for his son, his son smiled out to the audi­ence, the Jazz café was trans­formed into a homely kit­chen, it was a fam­ily affair and uncle KRS was out to school us on this moment­ous occa­sion, beats, bars and big les­sons.

“We’re about anti-sex­ism, anti-racism, anti-ageism, let the people see this… Fuck colo­ni­al­ism!” KRS-One (Jazz Café, Cam­den, Aug 9th 2015)

Rel­ev­ance

Earli­er in the day I’d been at a black lives mat­ter anniversary protest in cent­ral Lon­don, we com­mem­or­ated the life of Michael Brown, but also of Mark Dug­gan gunned down by police in Tot­ten­ham, of Sean Rigg strangled out by police in Brix­ton and the 1514 oth­ers since 1990. My voice was cut up from chant­ing and my spir­it was ground down by cease­less police bru­tal­ity.

KRS was nev­er one to shy away from the real­ity of the day, he takes on the police, the cor­por­a­tions, the politi­cians, every-one who stand again­st people power is firmly in his scopes, and he didn’t for­get to let people know what he thinks of the BBC. I felt I had the power to keep res­ist­ing. ‘No-one is illeg­al!’ he roared across the room, KRS’s way to intro­duce a track was to chant its chor­us acapel­la a few times, warm­ing it up and then drop the track hard – I’d only seen that on the screen before, in per­son, it works a treat.

The Invaders was the standout track for me, it stirred my soul, deeply, this track with its eer­ie South Amer­ic­an pipes and threats to the United States, was timely and tight. Only days before I was at a deten­tion centre for women migrants, chant­ing for their freedom, and again­st their tor­ture, KRS’s per­form­ance invoked the same spir­it of those brave freedom fight­ers.

“All these rap­per have cor­por­a­tions behind them, they’re all cor­por­ate, and I’m not sign­ing any­thing unless my fam­ily is with me.” KRS-One (Jazz Café, Cam­den, Aug 9th 2015)

Edu­ca­tion

KRS is all about know­ledge and learn­ing, he spoke of how edu­ca­tion is a joke, he told the crowd how as soon as his son could read and write he snatched him out of school and put him in home school­ing. The per­form­ance was as much an insight into KRS’s philo­sophy as it was a demon­stra­tion of his cata­logue. We were reminded about the ‘nation of Hip-Hop’, about how the cul­ture informs us, and we inform the cul­ture.

I left the show full of life, full of reas­ons and full of respect for one of the last remain­ing legends in the Hip-Hop world. KRS-One, a real Hip-Hop don.

Want to join the dis­cus­sion about KRS-One’s work, this art­icle and the live show simply head over to News­So­cial, the free mobile app where all the import­ant con­ver­sa­tions are hap­pen­ing, make sure you don’t miss out!

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Joshua Virasami

Joshua Virasami

Joshua Vir­asami, of Mauri­tian her­it­age, was born in 1990, South West Lon­don, UK. After fin­ish­ing state col­lege he dropped out of Uni­ver­sity. Since then has spent his time trav­el­ling, writ­ing, mak­ing music, pho­to­graph­ing and par­ti­cip­at­ing in/organising civil dis­obedi­ence.

About Joshua Virasami

Joshua Virasami
Joshua Virasami, of Mauritian heritage, was born in 1990, South West London, UK. After finishing state college he dropped out of University. Since then has spent his time travelling, writing, making music, photographing and participating in/organising civil disobedience.

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