Creating the Message – an interview with Duke Bootee

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One of the many things I agree wholeheartedly with KRS about, is the importance of self-creation to the foundation of Hip Hop Kulture. The idea of self-creation is, at least in part, a product of the concept of “knowledge of self”, from the 5% ideology. The search for knowledge of self is a continual process as you grow into a better human being and so is the continued desire to self-create or continue evolving. Hip Hop expression is continually evolving and even our idea of what exactly Hip Hop is, is constantly evolving.

What we once thought were the most important qualities to concentrate on at the time have changed. We no longer have to fight the mass consciousness about the idea that Hip Hop is a culture, not just an artform. People already believe that now. Hip Hop as a culture has spread across the World and has impacts most don’t even see. Now, some fights are for the true ideologies that made Hip Hop powerful to be redefined. Many have willfully ignored the true power of Hip Hop which is the power to edutain.

Edutainment, is what separates True School Hip Hop from pop music. People can gain benefits from experiencing edutainment. Music that educates or informs and transforms a mindset has been an integral part of Hip Hop since The Message. That song marked the beginning of conscious hip-hop  music. But in the spirit of self-creation, we can re-examine and redefine Hip Hop Kulture by exploring the roots a little deeper.

We love to gloss over history and believe whatever we want to believe in America. Ignorance is rewarded highly so that people become dumber and more susceptible to sucker-shit. True School Hip Hop is about uplifting the down-trodden and “civilizing the uncivilized”. Hip Hop is against people behaving like and becoming suckers. So, we can’t gloss over history. We have to re-examine it and explore the details. We can do this with The Message by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five.

People think they know this song and should have heard it if they consider themselves a Hiphoppa, but do they really know this song? Even I ignored and glossed over the real inspiration and author behind this iconic piece of music for many years. You see, back in the 90’s, I used to argue with a friend about a teacher at my local high school in Plainfield named, Ed Fletcher, who he said wrote the music and the words to The Message, but I dismissed him. Not until around 2013 did I realize he was right all along. In 2015, I finally got a chance to talk to Ed Fletcher and we discussed not only how he came up with the song, but I found out David Byrne of the Talking Heads is actually an unsung influence on that song, and therefore Hip Hop as well.

For many the interview will be a paradigm-shifting experience to understand how easily important facts are overlooked in Hip Hop history. These new facts can reshape how we view where we really are and what Hip Hop is. It’s a good thing though. More knowledge of where we come from helps us evolve. A better understanding of where we come from culturally can help us better direct where we’re going.

With all that said, here’s the interview with Duke Bootee…

Kurt Nice

Kurt Nice aka Kurtiss Jackson is a behind the scenes pioneer in the Hip Hop Kulture, creating the first nationally distributed video mix tape series, Shades of Hip Hop, in the late 1990s. Since touring the country with the Stop the Violence Movement and the Temple of Hip Hop as KRS-ONE’s National Marketing Director, Kurt Nice has been a constant commentator on conscious Hip Hop and its relevance to the new rap music of today, through radio and cable appearances. contact Kurt at

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