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KRS-One: "I Cheered 9/11"

Rapper's remarks set off controversy

October 14, 2004 12:00 AM ET
KRS-One has ignited controversy with his comments as a panelist at The New Yorker Festival on October 2nd, claiming that he and other African-Americans "cheered when 9/11 happened . . . I say that proudly."

As reported in the New York Daily News and confirmed by a New Yorker spokeswoman, the rapper explained his views by saying that prior to the attack World Trade Center security guards prevented black people from entering "because of the way we talk and dress. So when the planes hit the building, we were like, 'Mmmm -- justice.' [9/11] doesn't affect us. 9/11 happened to them, not us. The rich . . . those who are oppressing us. RCA or BMG, Universal, the radio stations."

KRS-One also criticized recent voter registration campaigns by members of the hip-hop community. "Voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption," he said. "America has to commit suicide if the world is to be a better place." This comment drew a heated response fellow panelist and former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who yelled, "That is wrong, man. Suicide is not the answer."

Since emerging as the leader of hip-hop troupe Boogie Down Productions in the Eighties, KRS-One has been an outspoken social critic. He delivered a stinging indictment of commercial airwaves on R.E.M.'s "Radio Song" in 1991, and in recent years he actually served as an executive with Dreamworks Records. His most recent solo album is 2003's Krystyles.

The Web site for Temple of Hip-Hop, the self-proclaimed hip-hop preservation society founded by KRS-One, includes a "declaration of peace" that seeks to "establish a foundation of health, love, awareness, wealth, peace and prosperity for ourselves, our children and their children's children, forever."

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