Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide

ABC-CLIO
3
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Thoroughly researched, thoroughly in tune with the culture, Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide profiles two dozen specific hip hop scenes across the United States, showing how each place shaped a singular identity. Through its unique geographic perspective, it captures the astonishing diversity of a genre that has captivated the nation and the world.

In two volumes organized by broad regions (East Coast, West Coast and Midwest and the Dirty South), Hip Hop in America spans the complete history of rap--from its 1970s origins to the rap battles between Queens and the Bronx in the 1980s, from the well-publicized East Coast vs. West Coast conflicts in the 1990s to the rise of the Midwest and South over the past ten years. Each essay showcases the history of the local scene, including the MCs, DJs, b-boys and b-girls, label owners, hip hop clubs, and radio shows that have created distinct styles of hip hop culture.

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About the author

Mickey Hess is assistant professor of English at Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ. He is the editor of Greenwood's Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Music, Movement, and Culture and his previous works include Praeger's Is Hip Hop Dead? The Past, Present, and Future of America's Most Wanted Music.

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Additional Information

Publisher
ABC-CLIO
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Published on
Nov 30, 2009
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Pages
734
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ISBN
9780313343216
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / Ethnomusicology
Music / Genres & Styles / Pop Vocal
Music / Genres & Styles / Rap & Hip Hop
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hip Hop's Inheritance arguably offers the first book-length treatment of what hip hop culture has, literally, 'inherited' from the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts movement, the Feminist Art movement, and 1980s and 1990s postmodern aesthetics. By comparing and contrasting the major motifs of the aforementioned cultural aesthetic traditions with those of hip hop culture, all the while critically exploring the origins and evolution of black popular culture from antebellum America through to 'Obama's America,' Hip Hop's Inheritance demonstrates that the hip hop generation is not the first generation of young black (and white) folk preoccupied with spirituality and sexuality, race and religion, entertainment and athletics, or ghetto culture and bourgeois culture. Taking interdisciplinarity and intersectionality seriously, Hip Hop's Inheritance employs the epistemologies and methodologies from a wide range of academic and organic intellectual/activist communities in its efforts to advance an intellectual history and critical theory of hip hop culture. Drawing from academic and organic intellectual/activist communities as diverse as African American studies and women's studies, postcolonial studies and sexuality studies, history and philosophy, politics and economics, and sociology and ethnomusicology, Hip Hop's Inheritance calls into question one-dimensional and monodisciplinary interpretations or, rather, misinterpretations, of a multidimensional and multivalent form of popular culture that has increasingly come to include cultural criticism, social commentary, and political analysis.
Hip hop is remarkably self-critical as a genre. In lyrics, rappers continue to debate the definition of hip hop and question where the line between underground artist and mainstream crossover is drawn, who owns the culture and who runs the industry, and most importantly, how to remain true to the culture's roots while also seeking fame and fortune. The tension between the desires to preserve hip hop's original culture and to create commercially successful music promotes a lyrical war of words between mainstream and underground artists that keeps hip hop very much alive today. In response to criticisms that hip hop has suffered or died in its transition to the mainstream, this book seeks to highlight and examine the ongoing dialogue among rap artists whose work describes their own careers.

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.

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