Background: Steven C. Johnson Jr., aka S-Five, is a West Oak Lane rapper who once spent 60 days in prison--half of them in solitary confinement--for beating the man he caught in bed with his then-girlfriend. It's a fact many rappers might actually want on their resume, and S-Five could certainly capitalize on it if he were so inclined. Except for one small thing: He's the grandson of Philadelphia police chief Sylvester Johnson. S-Five is now injecting a serious dose of positivity--instead of ho-hum gangsta cliches--into his newest records, all of which are overseen by his mentor, hip-hop legend KRS-One.
On his mentor: "KRS is like a brother to me in hip-hop. If it weren't for him, I would've been in these streets. I look at life differently. My lyrics have changed. I'm on a higher level. When we first met, he introduced me to the Temple of Hip-Hop [KRS' online ministry] and told me I could either take the blue pill or the red pill. He nicknamed me Neo."
On hip-hop: "Hip-hop to me is a culture. It's a way of life, a way to live. They say rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live. It's the way I walk, the way I talk. I am hip-hop."
On influences: "My father Steven C. Johnson. He was a Philly DJ in 1980, when hip-hop was just getting an audience. He told me not to mess with his turntables because if I broke the needle on his Technics 1200s, he'd break my back. So I picked up the mike instead, and that was it. He also taught me to beat box, and I'd carry his [record] crates to different parties. He gave me my first KRS album."
On busting out: "I finally got a song played on air on Sirius satellite radio. KRS told me recently that he opened the door for me, and now it's up to me to kick it down and break it off the hinges."