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KRS-One Explains Vibe Mag’s Role in Tupac/Biggie Beef

During the past few weeks it’s become clearer that the media plays a big role in fanning the flames behind hip-hop beefs. Slight misunderstandings are often construed as insults, quickly escalating harmless situations to dangerous heights, but sadly — this is not a new phenomenon. In a recent interview, KRS-One spoke about his past affiliation with Vibe magazine and former Vibe CEO Keith Clinkscales about the role of media in hip hop wars. KRS explained that although he had tremendous respect for Clinkscales, he had no doubt that both he and Vibe had a big role in perpetrating the infamous beef between the late Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.

KRS said that after the deaths of the two prominent rappers, Clinkscales approached him about the magazine’s involvement in the warring, wondering if he should feel responsible for the way things turned out. “Keith Clinkscales came to me and asked, ‘Have we sinned against Hip Hop?’ I told him, ‘You have sinned. You have a responsibility to Hip Hop culture, and you became an emcee and got caught up in the battle, You shirked your responsibility,’Keith had tears in his eyes, and I’ll never forget,” KRS said.

In response to the former CEO’s query of, “How do we fix it? How do we make things better?” KRS advised him to change the direction of his editorial content in an effort to better hip hop culture. “You have to come out with a whole new magazine,” he said. “You have to focus on the battle in particular. We have to clean up the battles within our culture, so that when you battle you don’t get shot.” Although editorial content in hip hop publications has improved since the mid-90s, a new generation of blogs and other media outlets continue to provide easy venues for promoting hip hop conflicts.

After his stint at Vibe, Clinkscales eventually moved on to become Senior Vice President of Content Development and Enterprises at ESPN and Vibe magazine was shuttered in June 2009, due to the financial issues. KRS-One will release a new collaborative album on Duck Down Records on Sept. 15.

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