KRS One @ Shephards Bush Empire, London    
written by Otavie Warmann - March 17th, 2006    
"The real hip-hop is over here! The real hip-hop is over here! Real hip-hop is, over here!" Explicit. Simple. True. From the moment KRS-One stepped on stage, his intent and theme was defined. By the night's conclusion, and through use of lyrical expertise rather than frills, the theme was well embedded in the minds of the audience too. Adorning his large frame was a black t-shirt depicting the words 'I am hip-hop'. Surrounding the stage were hip-hops role players - beat boxers, b-boys and a DJ. Then of course was the phrase, repeated more than several times throughout the night. KRS may be forgiven for his insistence.

Those who have followed his illustrious eighteen year career may empathize with his current state of mind. Those who have touched base with his fifteen albums since 1984 may comprehend his legacy. Those who haven't should now want to as they were treated to an exhilarating performance by one of hip-hops original players. KRS meandered through his vast archive of music which contained heavy drums and attention seeking bass - all this serving as the canvas for him to paint his powerfully conscious lyrics. His flow cannot match that of Notorious [B.I.G.], but that is not why you go to a KRS-One concert. You go to see his energy and passion that fills the air and made even more tangible by the almost constant stream of sweat pouring from his substantial figure.

For the entire night, it was clear that hip-hop alone was what had summoned the audience. The atmosphere was charged and further enhanced by an apparently knowledgeable crowd who rapped line for line to a number of tracks. The reception that met classics like 'Step into a World' bred nostalgia, as if carousing with the last of the genuine hip-hop lovers. KRS must have felt it too as cries for an encore translated into a thirty minute exhibition of what it really means to master the ceremony.

Still, understand that there are better MC's than KRS-One. Re-read that if you need to. Also understand however, that there are few better artists than KRS-One. Re-read that because you need to. For those now wearing confused faces, the reason is simple. Anybody who has journeyed hip-hop since its genesis has witnessed contrast in its starkest form. Contemporary rappers would employ the pretext of changing times. Not KRS. He has kept it real from the gate by staying true to the art form that will eventually see him pass as a legend. Whoever said record sales determines success?

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