NEW YORK -- If you ask rapper KRS-One, it's up to hip-hop fans, DJs and rap musicians to keep the culture alive and thriving in America, whether it be in the inner city or in the countryside.
Looking to set a good example, the rapper announced Monday the first-ever "Hip-Hop Appreciation Week" -- scheduled for May 19-24 in the
New York area -- as his part of that plan. The week will include lectures, radio programs and other special events designed to promote the culture and his new school, the Temple of Hip-Hop Kulture in Harlem.
"The culture is hanging out there like a kite," said KRS-One, the rap master who took time out to detail the program schedule for the week in an effort to raise awareness about hip-hop and the Temple. "Responsible hip-hoppers need to take control of it. We have to take responsibility for being the culture, not just doin' it."
At a special ceremony held at the Gemini Diner in midtown Manhattan, more than 100 hip-hop fans and affiliates came together to share fruit and coffee and to christen KRS-One's Temple, a school dedicated to educating people in the history and culture of hip-hop.
Despite the diner's piped-in soft-rock music -- such as folk-rocker Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" and various tunes from contemporary-pop songstress Jewel -- organizers and attendees made it clear that hip-hop was the music that mattered.
"The Temple and 'Hip-Hop Appreciation Week' are happening to bring
everyone into the common experience of hip-hop," said Professor Z,
chancellor of the Temple. "The Temple will be the home of our collective consciousness and it will promote health, wealth and the awareness of self."
Professor Z emphasized the importance of carrying hip-hop's messages of
"self, intelligence, love, vision, evolution and revolution (S.I.L.V.E.R.)"
from person to person. A silver ribbon, chosen as the symbol of "Hip-Hop Appreciation Week," adorned all printed materials.
"Hip-hop supports a trillion-dollar industry," Z said. "It's time, through the Temple, to give back something to the inner-city youth culture that creates hip-hop."
In case anyone was unsure of the potential outreach for this event, one need only take a look at the pamphlets lying around for the "Million Youth March," a follow-up to the 1996 march on Washington to celebrate black male solidarity known as the "Million Man March." The "Million Youth March," scheduled for September, is dedicated to ending "racist politics, police brutality, attacks on blacks enrolling in college, the conspiracy to permanently criminalize black youth" and "negative media images."
In addition, members of the Temple stood ready to hand forms to join the Temple to attendees of Monday's ceremony. KRS-One arrived without an entourage or any fanfare to discuss the objectives and principles of the community and to announce the creation of "Hip-Hop Appreciation Week" -- which will include events designed to help spread the spirit of the hip-hop community. Among those events scheduled are a New York radio station WQHT Hot 97's interview with Angie Martinez, a Wu-Tang Clan in-store appearance and a She Thang/Spinderella in-store appearance, all set for May 19. Also, on May 20, there will be a Newark Day proclamation in New Jersey, a lecture at Essex County Vocational School, a Lighthouse Homeless Shelter luncheon and a lecture at YMCA Harlem (featuring AD of the Cold Crush Brothers). On May 21, the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.'s birthday, there will be a special lecture at the Brooklyn Library.
"It's not just about one person," said Timur Davis, a librarian from a public library in Newark, N.J., early in the afternoon as dozens of hip-hop fans, temple members and music journalists waited for KRS-One to make his appearance. "That misses the point and things get messed up. Even the president of the United States knows there have to be others to make things happen."
Additional artists and organizations joining KRS-One in support of the Temple were Thembisa Mshaka, AD of the Cold Crush Brothers, Professor Z, SonicNet, Big Daddy Kane, Meridian Entertainment, Common Sense, Kool Herc, DJ Chuck Chill Out, DJ Kid Capri, MC Shan, Rampage, Fat Joe, Rha Goddess and WQHT Hot 97, whose slogan is "The Epicenter of Hip-Hop Kulture."
"Record companies feel they are the culture," KRS-One said. "Hip-hop has
to begin to define, protect and promote itself and that's why we founded
"If we can achieve this, then we can hear our political voice ring out
across the globe and our children will have a place to go to." For more information, contact the Temple of Hip-Hop Kulture hotline at (888) HIP-HOP9 or check the Temple's website at www.templeofhiphop.com. [Mon., Feb. 9, 1998, 7 p.m. PST]