“Right around 1992, the Gulf War is on big time. We just knew it was the New World Order. There were a lot of things going on in hip-hop that I didn’t like. So I made an album called Sex And Violence to make that point. I was letting everybody know what hip-hop had become. We needed to re-think this; we needed to re-think what we were becoming. So for the album cover I used Robert Williams’ surreal artwork, which depicted the Oracle of Delphi. It shows a half-man, half-woman swooping in on the entrepreneur, squeezing cheese out of a lady that was sitting on a man’s lap. This entrepreneur is obviously in a sexual situation with her and while he’s wasting time the oracle comes in with a clock that points to doomsday. I put that message out in 1992 because I didn’t want to be so blatant with just screaming out things like the New World Order or globalization or the Illuminati. I think we chronicled everything hip-hop was going through on Sex And Violence.
But I wasn’t the only one trying to say these things. Back then all of hip-hop had a philosophy. You had the pro-Black philosophy prevalent in hip-hop, which equaled to Pan-Africanism—Kwame Ture to the fullest. He talked about a socialist Africa. That’s how I got caught up with the African National Congress when [Nelson] Mandela got freed. When he was let out of jail I was one of the only rappers that was asked to perform at Yankee Stadium when he came to New York. So the Pro-black philosophy was still very prevalent. At this time the black man is God! The 5 Percent Nation was huge. This was an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. There were names like Born Allah and Freedom Justice Equality. People were studying what they called their lessons. But when you looked at some of these people’s actual lives—and not the leaders and serious studiers of 5 Percent knowledge, but their underlings—some of these people just had half knowledge and was running around saying they represented the entire culture. These were some of the people I was going up against when I was making Sex And Violence. And I addressed my beefs on the song ‘Build & Destroy’.
Basically what I was trying to get across on that song is I didn’t see color to be honest with you. I believe that human beings are consciousness and energy. Intellectually, I didn’t understand the whole concept of the black man being God or how the black woman was the earth. I didn’t grasp it, so some of my own ignorance was at the lead. Within my own ignorance of the 5 Percent Nation I’m looking at these cats like, ‘Y’all dudes are playing with God!’ And I’m serious about God. I was also getting into it with the X-Clan. They started taking shots at me saying stuff like, ‘Brother, you must learn’ and calling me captain human because I put out Human Education Against Lies and I’m doing records with R.E.M. and talking about environmentalism and saving the planet. It all just sounded too white to them.
And X-Clan was rolling with some old school revolutionaries like Sonny Carson. These guys put in work and it was actually them who was telling X-Clan, ‘Yo, go get that brother KRS-One…knock him down.’ I learned later on from Brother J (X-Clan’s lead MC) that they were putting him up to this. So I started putting word out around Brooklyn like, who is this Brother J dude? And J started putting word out like, who does KRS-One think he is? It started to get so wild that there were crews that were gearing up in the Bronx and in Brooklyn all because of X-Clan and KRS beefing! So Afrika Bambaataa calls us both us and says, ‘This is bullshit…both of y’all stand for something way deeper.’ Basically Bam embarrassed us both on the phone and called us up to the Bronx River. We shook hands and squashed it. From that day on, we became friends.
But right after I squashed it with X-Clan, cats from the 5 Percent Nation was still attacking me. They heard ‘Build & Destroy’ and were really coming at me. My own arrogance and ignorance allowed me to debate with others that were ignorant and arrogant. There was a real beef in the streets to where I was doing a show at the old Studio 54, which was called The Ritz back then. And about hundred Gods with guns came to the show and were screaming, ‘Yo, when KRS comes out we going to see him.’ And I’m like, ‘Fuck this…I ain’t no punk. I’ll battle everyone of these Gods.’ I was beefing with Poor Righteous Teachers, too. But then I realized from one of the leaders of the 5 Percent Nation who explained to me the depth of the movement. The fact that the Asiatic Blackman was the first man to walk the earth, even before writing was invented—this was solid knowledge. We broke bread and squashed the beef. I found out that my real beef was with the people who was taking this lightly. We all learned from each other.”