In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together renowned writers and critics including Mark Anthony Neal, Marc Lamont Hill, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., and many others to confront Illmatic song by song, with each scholar assessing an individual track from the album. The result is a brilliant engagement with and commentary upon one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.
Asante, a young firebrand poet, professor, filmmaker, and activist who represents this movement, uses hip hop as a springboard for a larger discussion about the urgent social and political issues affecting the post-hip-hop generation, a new wave of youth searching for an understanding of itself outside the self-destructive, corporate hip-hop monopoly.
Through insightful anecdotes, scholarship, personal encounters, and conversations with youth across the globe as well as icons such as Chuck D and Maya Angelou, Asante illuminates a shift that can be felt in the crowded spoken-word joints in post-Katrina New Orleans, seen in the rise of youth-led organizations committed to social justice, and heard around the world chanting "It's bigger than hip hop."
Wu-Tang Clan's albums are analyzed and discussed in terms of their artistry as well as in terms of their critical, cultural, and commercial impact. By delving into the motivation behind the creation of pivotal songs and albums and mining their dense metaphor and wordplay, the book provides an understanding of what made a team of nine friends and relatives from Staten Island with a love of Kung Fu movies into not just a music group, but a powerful cultural movement.
Organized to first examine the social and historical framing of Hip Hop culture and Black experiences in the United States, the remainder of the book is dedicated to elaborating on consistent themes of excellence and well-being in Hip Hop, and examining evidence of new ambassadors of Hip Hop culture across professional disciplines. The author uses research-informed language and structures to help the reader fully understand how Hip Hop creates more pathways to health and learning for youth and communities.
From Run DMC, the legendary group credited with bringing rap to the mainstream, to Salt N Pepa, the first all-female groups to stake their claim in the male dominated world of hip-hop, to Kanye West's breakout career as a producer and rapper, this encyclopedia recovers the histories of important artists both inside and outside the hip-hop mainstream, all while examining the varied and ever-changing forms of the music. Comprehensive profiles are enhanced by sidebars highlighting such topics as rivalries between artists, the importance of geographic region, musical innovations (including sampling technologies), legal issues, media scandals, and wider phenomena, movements, or styles of hip-hop that were sparked by a particular artist or group.
Hip-hop fans will appreciate the critical analysis of the icons' social and cultural impact as well as issues of enduring significance, such as the influence of gangsta rap on youth culture. A timeline, a comprehensive introduction, numerous photos, and an extensive bibliography of print and electronic sources for further reading are included, making this encyclopedia a crucial reference for teachers and students interested in understanding the history and future of hip-hop music.
Proclamations of hip hop's death have flooded the airwaves. The issue may have reached its boiling point in Nas's 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead. Nas's album is driven by nostalgia for a mythically pure moment in hip hop's history, when the music was motivated by artistic passion, instead of base commercialism. In the course of this same album, however, Nas himself brags about making money for his particular record label. These and similar contradictions are emblematic of the complex forces underlying the dialogue that keeps hip hop a vital element of our culture. Is Hip Hop Dead? seeks to illuminate the origins of hip hop nostalgia and examine how artists maintain control of their music and culture in the face of corporate record companies, government censorship, and the standardization of the rap image.
Many hip hop artists, both mainstream and underground, use their lyrics to engage in a complex dialogue about rhyme skills versus record sales, and commercialism versus culture. This ongoing dialogue invigorates hip hop and provides a common ground upon which we can reconsider many of the developments in the industry over the past 20 years. Building from black traditions that value knowledge gained from personal experience, rappers emphasize the importance of street knowledge and its role in forging a career in the music business. Lyrics adopt models of the self-made man narrative, yet reject the trajectories of white Americans like Benjamin Franklin who espoused values of prudence, diligence, and delayed gratification. Hip hop's narratives instead promote a more immediately viable gratification through crime and extend this criminal mentality to their work in the music business. Through the lens of hip hop, and the threats to hip hop culture, author Mickey Hess is able to confront a range of important issues, including race, class, criminality, authenticity, the media, and personal identity.