On Friday night, with the Book Expo in full swing at the Javits Center, the crowd at powerHouse Arena in Dumbo was kickin’ it with KRS-ONE, the zen master of the publisher’s new imprint I Am Hip Hop. The first book to drop? The Gospel of Hip Hop.
While the Gospel won’t be released in its entirety until the fall, there is a pamphlet that was made available to the crowd, who scurried around the rapper as he exited the building, sharpie markers and cameras in hand.
After playing for twenty minutes or so, the emcee took a break to explain his purpose, becoming increasingly sermonic with every stanza. Rather than break up the flow of his words, here is KRS-ONE’s Sermon on the Mount, in full.
This is the ultimate stage for a real emcee. To be in a situation where you’re slightly out of context, but you’re in context. Oh this is so wonderful. Let me tell you, this right here is a book publishing company, as you probably know, powerHouse Books. You’re in the corporate offices of powerHouse Books. One of the reasons I came to this book company to get my book done was for this very reason right here: Where else can you go and hear one of the authors stand at the mic and spit lyrics to you?
Where are you gonna get that? PowerHouse, this is real for me. I used to walk around these streets here long before gentrification. That went over your head.
I used to walk here – this place was tore down, the whole spot. This is where we used to leave people – right on that corner right there. This is back in the ‘70s, back in the ‘80s, and one of the reasons I mention this to you is because what’s so amazing is to see how life changes. How who you were at 10 years old is not who you are at 20; and who you are at 20 or were at 20, is not who you are at 30.
You see it’s interesting, if the 10-year-old you did not make the right decisions, the 20-year-old you is suffering for it. If the 20-year-old you don’t make the right decisions, the 30-year-old you suffers the consequences. I bring this up, because this brings you right to the book we’re putting out called the Gospel of Hip Hop.
This is a pamphlet version of it. We put this together so that you can get a gist, an idea of what the book is about. Gospel of Hip Hop – how can Hip Hop even have a gospel? Let me answer these questions for you quickly in my little commercial break.
First, those that study theology will know that there is no boundaries between human existence and God. Human existence and God; nature and God. There’s no separation, God is right here with us now, in us.
Even if you’re atheist you still marvel at the order of the universe. Even if you look at it from a quantum physics point of view there is an order to how we live and what we’re doing. And if you study the order you know the patterns, and if you know the patterns, you know the seasons – you’re not afraid anymore.
That’s why Hip Hop is recession proof. Here we are, the whole world is going crazy and we’re still spending money on jewelry; could be stupidity, too. But I mention this to you because, ladies and gentlemen, the world is changing around you. Hip Hop – what we saw in the 1970s and 1980s – no longer exists. Hannah Montana is Hip Hop; Britney spears just did a mixtape. Don’t laugh, this is real.
The world is not what it used to be. But what? What? Why do I say that? Because here’s our opportunity. If the world is continuously changing and the way it was ten years ago is not the way it is ten years later, then we have an opportunity to change the world. The world is not going to stay the way it is today.
So instead of harping on the way things work in your present, start getting a vision of your future. Start getting a new vision of where you could be. This is what the gospel of hip hop discusses.
What is the gospel? The good news. What is the good news? The good news is that you can actually be Hip Hop and feed your family. You can actually be a DJ and wind up in Hong Kong, China getting $10,000 for twenty minutes.
You can actually be a graffiti writer end up in France somewhere selling your pieces for $20,000 a pop. This is what Hip Hop is experiencing today. But the mass media is just letting you know two things: Hip Hop is about bitches, hoes and niggas. And: the whole music industry has collapsed. Damn. Not much left for the kids, is there?
So the gospel of Hip Hop comes out as a self-help technique. If you are into this culture at all – there is a spiritual conduct to the culture itself that brought us to where we are today. I’m standing here before you right now – twenty-three years, eighteen albums, I got every award they could think of for Hip Hop – and I’m standing here today rhyming in front of you right now, why? Because I love what I do, and I am what I do.
I’m not just doing Hip Hop – I am Hip Hop. If you’re an electrician, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, don’t just represent these people. Be them; become them. This is the problem with architecture, law, medicine today. Too many of these professionals are going to their job, instead of doing their work. They’re going to the job, as opposed to doing the work.
So the Gospel of Hip Hop asks you: Are you someone doing your work or are you jobbin’ it everyday? Eleven million people lost their jobs just last month. The Gospel of Hip Hop says when you lose your job, you find your work. You read this book today, you lose your job, you’ll find your purpose, and that’s why KRS-ONE is putting this book together.
And let me say, this is not really even for this time – this is a future writing. There’s very mature writing here, because I’m suggesting the establishment of a new civilization on earth called Hip Hop. I’m suggesting that God speaks directly through Hip Hop. I’m suggesting that the universe is what produced Hip Hop. And therefore, what are the patterns of Hip Hop? Because if we can know the patterns of Hip Hop, we’ll know the patterns that universe has for us.
This ain’t just about music and dance. The music and the dance comes from somewhere, and that’s what the Gospel of Hip Hop explains: where does the dance come from and where is it going. So I thank you all for coming out, for being here today, for joining us today. You are actually with the number one publisher for Hip Hop – straight up – and I say that authoritatively because they have KRS-ONE here.
But nonetheless, check out the rest of the collection, the rest of the catalog, you’ll see what I’m talking about and why I came here as well. This particular company is moving up, got it going on and I’m proud to be here. That’s why I’m standing in the office right now, rhyming. Now let me get back to my work.