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KRS-One details reasons he rejected performing at Grammys’ salute to hip-hop

‘You get no respect here’ says legendary rapper KRS-One about the Grammys
KRS-One (Photo credit "Eddy "Precise" Lamarre")

The recently televised Grammy salute to 50 years of hip-hop was by all accounts a resounding success and beautiful celebration of the genre but the evening did have some notable absences.

One of the biggest artist missing from the night was Boogie Down Productions’ own KRS-ONE.

In a recent interview posted via Youtube, the BlastMaster said he was personally invited by co-organizer LL Cool J but had very strong reasons for turning down the invitation.

“I was asked about two months ago; they asked me to do it and I turned them down,” the “You Must Learn” rapper said. “With all due respect, LL COOL J himself called me, spoke to my wife and pretty much begged for me to be on the show but we turned him down. And reason being is because I know people don’t understand this — and I say this respectfully. KRS-One is a Hip Hop extremist. I’m not violent, a violent extremist. I’m insane with this culture. I know I must have lost my mind in this.”

“I don’t fight it, I don’t apologize for it,” he continued. “I recognize that my experience in this thing called Hip Hop is different from mostly everybody else’s experience with hip-hop. […] I restrict myself in a certain way, because I know who I am in this culture. You’re in the temple of Hip Hop, this is our home. This place, this institution can never side with, come under, understand the exploitation of our culture. Never will you ever see me standing in the environment where our culture is being exploited.

“So when I got the call, I immediately said nah,” he recalled. “First of all, it’s the Grammys? You get no respect here. None. Now we respect your existence, we know you exist. And we know that you’re the Grammys and we understand that and we respect that. But you ignored Hip Hop for 49 years. At the 50th year, you wanna call us? You couldn’t even call on 47 and gear it up to 50. You wait to the 50th year to call Hip Hop’s authentic teacha? Nah, you don’t get that privilege.”

Despite KRS-One’s noticeable absence from the evening, a number of his contemporaries including DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, and Rakim all took part in the celebration along with newer artists like Chance The Rapper, Jeezy, Gunna, and YG among others.

Another legendary artist that refused an invite to the affair was MC Hammer.

On the day the special was televised, the event’s other organizer, Questlove, took to X/Twitter to answer questions from fans about putting it all together and revealed of all the people who said no, it was the Oakland legend’s decline that “hurt the most”.

“We begged him to open,” Quest confessed. “We really wanted him to have his flowers.”

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