KRS One brings anti-violence movement to town

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In 1989, rapper KRS One began the Stop The Violence Movement in response to Black on Black violence in his native New York. Nearly two decades later, he is revitalizing the movement, citing the Chicago Public Schools student killings and the youth known a

The veteran MC chose Chicago to kick off his new Stop The Violence tour, describing it as one of the “brightest” cities in the world, and one that has responded most positively to his message of anti-violence.

Sunday night, the Grammy nominated hip hop artist staged a concert at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., to raise money for the movement, and held a press conference at the Thompson Center downtown.

On Monday and Tuesday, he spoke with students at Stagg elementary and Crane high school, where an 18-year-old student was recently shot to death. His message, he said, is promoting selfknowledge, and “turning up the volume on peace.”

“A lot of our children want peace, a lot of adults want peace, but can’t get it…Where’s the event that’s promoting peace? Where’s that place you can take your kid to listen to rap music without expletives and curse words? If we develop that place%uFFFD I think the city will respond,” KRS One said at the press conference.

Although KRS One left the city on Wednesday, Joanne Coleman, director of the Stop The Violence organization, said the movement is taking root in Illinois. The organization received support from state Reps. John Fritchey (D-11th) and David Miller (D-29th), and is looking to create more partnerships within the state.

“Chicago is the pilot city [for the Stop The Violence Movement.],” Coleman said, adding that local efforts would go as far west as suburban Aurora and possibly southwest to Springfield. “This summer we’ll be doing a summer school program with Crane high school%uFFFD teaching them DJ classes, production, sound and lighting, something that they’re interested in after they get out of the classroom, so they’re not out on the streets,” she said, noting that it would serve as a prototype for future Stop The Violence programs.

KRS One also expressed an interest in using inner city youth as his engineering and management team when he goes on tour and even going so far as inviting members of the Vice Lords gang to be his security. In conjunction with the tour, KRS One has released a compilation album called Self Construction.

Chicago will be the first to hear the album’s first single, which is titled after the album. Self Construction was done in the spirit of the 1989 compilation single, Self Destruction, which KRS One credits with launching the Stop The Violence Movement. “In 1989 when we put out Self Destruction”%uFFFDeverybody didn’t take to the record, KRS One said.

“Other artists continued to put out other messages and their fans suffered for it. [But] those who became the fans of the Stop The Violence Movement, somehow it’s those people that you meet in hospitals as the doctors. It’s those people that you meet as the attorney, as the state official. “That’s progress. That’s major, major progress,” he said.

On Self Destruction, a young KRS One collaborated with Public Enemy, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, Heavy D and others. Today, Nelly, Styles P, Rah Digga, Redman, Method Man, Talib Kweli and Busta Rhymes are among those who will drop rhymes with the 42-year-old MC.

KRS One noted that his collaboration with Nelly is meant to make a statement. “Everyone in hip hop knows of the rivalry between myself and Nelly as rappers. So right on the record, right on the top, you get me and Nelly which tells the inner-city, we were big enough to put our thing aside, why don’t you consider the same?” KRS asked.

Although Stop The Violence began in the ‘hood, KRS One said that the issue is broader than urban Black America, and a growing number of Americans are rethinking guns, violence and war. “America’s rethinking it’s future right now, and I’m proud to be part of that. I’m proud to be part of those who are taking the initiative to help American people think they’re way out of violence [and] war,” he said.

The tour will move to Detroit on May 2, but Coleman said that other stops had yet to be solidified. She noted that the tour was originally scheduled for the summer, but after a slew of youth-related shootings across the country, KRS One planned an earlier trip.

“We’re making the events happen as we speak,” Coleman said. “[The tour] wasn’t going to be until June and July. But school lets out, and we can’t reach the students if they’re not in school.” She is currently coordinating stops in Las Vegas, Cleveland and Albany, N.Y.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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