From the streets of the Bronx to the hills of Ghana, this is the definitive history of hip-hop - now in mass market paperback.
Jeff Chang has been a hip-hop journalist for over a decade. He has written cover stories on Hip-Hop for The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Los Angeles Weekly, Spin and Vibe.
Adult/High School-This isn't a musical history, but rather an urban social history. While learning about those who originated hip-hop, readers are informed of the social conditions that led to its creation in the Bronx and its expanding popularity. In the '70s, the borough was in the throes of an urban-development scheme that left it cut off from the rest of New York City by major highway construction, as illustrated by two small maps. With crushing poverty and little to do, teens turned to gangs, but also to house parties, break dancing, and graffiti. Soon, Lower East Side art dealers and club owners discovered the scene and brought it to the mainstream. But hip-hop wasn't destined to be a fad, and suburban Long Island's Public Enemy appeared, followed a few years later by the Los Angeles scene, led by NWA and Ice Cube. The contrast between the Bronx gangs of the '70s and the Crips and Bloods of the '90s shows how rap lyrics-and the daily lives of rappers-got more violent. This is an extremely well-researched, heavily footnoted, thoroughly indexed book that, although lengthy, isn't the dry scholarly read it might appear to be. Chang wears his left-leaning sensibilities on his sleeve, and artists who tried to advance the art form are given more attention, to the detriment of those who were shallower but just as popular. The conclusion the book draws is its real strength-hip-hop is the culture of youth, and teens today have never known a world without it.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Hip-hop journalist Chang looks back on 30 years of the cultural landscape, with a particular focus on the African-American street scene, in this engaging and extensive debut. Chang shows how hip-hop arose in the rubble of the Bronx in the 1970s, when youth unemployment hit 60%-80%; traces the music through the black-Jewish racial conflicts of 1980s New York to the West Coast scene and the L.A. riots; and follows it to the Kristal-soaked, bling-encrusted corporate rap of today. Chang's balanced assessment of rap's controversial trappings neither condemns gang culture nor forgives its sins, but places gangs in the conditions that birthed them and illustrates their influence on street culture. Chang also examines art forms that arose alongside the music: the b-boys ("break dancers") with their James Brown-inspired, acrobatic battles and the graffiti artists, who practiced their defiant, "outlaw art" on the sides of subway trains and any other flat surface available. The vivid narrative alternates between Chang's historical elucidation and first-person accounts from the major players, including DJ Kool Herc, the mythic DJ who started it all at a West Bronx party; Afrika Bambaataa, who crossed gang boundaries for block parties, inspiring scores of others to enact truces and do the same; and Kurtis Blow, the first major-label rap artist, along with countless more. Most importantly, he documents stories that have been left unrecorded until now, with the oral histories of the gangs and artists. Illus. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Jeff Chang has spent the last decade researching a vivid and fascinating book which should remain the definitive history for at least as long ... Finally, rap gets the definitive history it deserves" Q "Energetic and exhilarating ... There is a fearless sweep to this book. A distinct achievement" Daily Telegraph "Inflammatory, illuminating, and anything but myopic, the scope of Chang's work is awe-inspiring" -- DJ Shadow "Can't Stop Won't Stop knows hip hop to be the most significant musical-cultural revolution since rock and roll and tells its story from the bottom up" Word "Has to rate as one of the most comprehensive studies of hip-hop history yet published" Rock Sound