There and Back Again: A Hip Hop Journey

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(originally published in 2008 for KRSONE.biz)

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On our last leg of the Stop The Violence Movement Pre-Tour 2008, we went to California in preparation for the full 20th year anniversary commemoration in 2009.  Rather than fly over the country by airplane, we decided to meet KRS ONE and our other Temple of Hip Hop members in Cali after reaching our destination by Amtrak train. We couldn’t be happier with our decision. By taking in the panoramic views on the observation car which is enclosed in windows from floor to ceiling, we gained a new point of view about this great country we live in. Unlike the GPS/MapQuest excursions to show dates we’ve been doing for the past couple of months, here we sat back in comfort, walked around the train, ate delicious meals in the dining car, talked to interesting, friendly people, and found quiet time to contemplate while someone else handled the driving.

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Our journey across America began in New Jersey then to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and finally California. The most spectacular scenery came around the continental divide which is the mountainous and canyon region of the U.S. near the Rocky Mountains. At 10,000 feet the Rocky Mountains give you a sense of the grand scale of nature matched only by the great expanses of canyon region you can travel thru only by train or river transportation. The main sense I was personally able to reacquaint myself with was the appreciation for civilization. Corner stores, record shops, and malls take on a new value when confronted with the vast wildernesses which would exist everywhere if not for the ingenuity of mankind.  Even in this country there are places that the hardest of hardrocks does not want to be alone in. And I’m not talkin about midnight in the seediest section of the Bronx or Compton. I’m talkin about Arches National Park, or somewhere outside of Provo Utah, or Elko Nevada. People whose lives are filled with intimidation, sucker moves and get-over tactics could easily catch an eye opening reality check when faced with the heartless, unforgiving world of Mother Nature.

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On the train one night in the dining car, a guy named Steve from Utah, told me a story of another guy who went hiking by himself and had to cut off his own arm after getting it lodged underneath an 8 ton boulder, unable to free himself for a week with no rescue in sight. The story was much more graphic than I’ve said here, but suffice it to say that even if it’s not true, nature is your harshest judge outside of the inner-city life style that city dwellers and even suburbanites participate in. Mother Nature is a way harsher judge than men are to one another. The punishments in nature are likely the harshest of all because in the end, she always wins.

127 Hours starring James  Franco (2010).

127 Hours starring James Franco (2010).

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The story the guy on the train told was true. In 2010, 2 years later, they made it into a movie starring James Franco

 

Me and Reelest Reeken (sipping coffee).

 

Travelling up and down the east coast you see places that are remote no doubt. However, remote like a desert or a mountain is a little different. Just ask the Donner party of the late 1800’s in the Sierra Nevada mountain range near California. After a very harsh winter only half of the people had survived by resorting to cannibalism of their former comrades.  To the people that choose to live or find themselves stuck in those types of remote areas, especially in America, I got much respect. Yall don’t get to enjoy the full extent of modern living in an integrated world like Chicago, L.A., Atlanta or NYC. Yet at the same time, the character ethics you might relinquish to live in that world of so-called modernization, could give you some comfort, in making the choice to stay in such a rural area, like you do.

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The point of all this is this: I am Hiphop. And representing the preservation of this culture, I appreciate civilization, and my fellow man. We need each other. You can’t survive out there on your own. You need people.  That’s the Unity in: Peace, Love, Unity and safely having Fun. Yes, ultimately it is your own conscious mind that will save you from a path of personal destruction. But in the meantime, other people will definitely be the help you need along the way. Shout to Reelest Reeken, Jah Jah, GBR, Gus Grizzle, MJ, Shy-U, G-Hop, and Sista Shai, for assistance in making things happen.

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 info@hiphoplives.net

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