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Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Music Culture) Paperback – May 15, 1994


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Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Music Culture) + The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop--and Why It Matters + Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
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Product Details

  • Series: Music Culture
  • Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; 1st edition (May 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819562750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819562753
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rap music often blasts African American rage into mainstream American culture and with its call-and-response choruses and violent, no-holds-barred lyrics, questions societal tradition and authority. These assertions aren't hard to prove. The problem lies in explaining all this without forgetting that most of this music's impact depends on having a good beat and being danceable. Rose, an assistant professor of history and Africana studies at New York University, is generally successful in putting rap in the context of the urban noise, technology and socioeconomics that nurtures it and of the "slave dances, blues lyrics, Mardi Gras parades, Jamaican patois, toasts and signifying" that preceded it. Rose addresses sexism, both in the plight of women rappers and in rap lyrics, partially excusing the latter by saying, "Rap's sexist lyrics are also part of a rampant and viciously normalized sexism that dominates the corporate culture of the music business." Supporting her thesis are direct interviews with rappers, personal remembrances and anecdotes, as well as deconstruction of lyrics and videos. Although her analyses are often fascinating, in sentences like "Rappers are constantly taking dominant discursive fragments and throwing them into relief destabilizing hegemonic discourses and attempting to legitimate counter/hegemonic interpretations," Rose becomes unnecessarily obscurantist, forgetting to let the music speak for itself. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This ethnographic study is the first detailed exploration of rap music within its social, cultural, and artistic contexts. Rose (history/Africana studies, NYU) carefully analyzes each defining element of the genre. For example, her study of the cultural and technological implications of sampling-a pillar of rap-is both impressive and unprecedented. Further, Rose's hermeneutics extend beyond the music itself to such corollary expressions of hiphop style as rap music videos and breakdancing. Rose constructs a solid bridge between hiphop and academe: she explains the former in the language of the latter and does so splendidly. However, even the most powerful words cannot recreate music. Since academicians may be unfamiliar with the works discussed, an accompanying CD or cassette would have been helpful. While Brian Cross's less-rigorous It's Not About a Salary (LJ 2/15/94) remains a better choice for public libraries, Black Noise belongs on the shelves of almost every academic collection.
Bill Piekarski, Southwestern Coll. Lib., Chula Vista, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an impressive interpretation of Black musical culture, with loads of interesting information and pertinent feminist content. I've read several books with somewhat similar subject matter, from Dick Hebdige's broad and helpful survey to the rather pretentious book by Russell Potter; but none of them captured my interest as much as this one.
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By Suzanne M. Wheat on November 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was expecting more from this author. However, the book has been very helpful toward a better understanding of the subject. Important book as there are so few explicitly analytical works out there.
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By ashlee on October 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a great foundational text for hip-hop scholarship. The text also provides a story-telling aspect to the book that is interesting and useful to understanding the foundation of rap music in America.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ENG393DC Group2 on October 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rap music is the subject of much criticism and debate. Controversial lyrics, loud dance sounds, and misinterpreted music videos have led rap and subsequently the hip hop movement to fall under intense scrutiny. In Black Noise, Tricia Rose enters this scene of intense arguments surrounding Hip Hop, and offers a unique view of Hip Hop: the view of a historian, scholar, professor. Rose takes on debates regarding Hip Hop and grounds them in academic research and history, unravelling the complexities of the genre.

Black Noise begins by explaining the importance of graffiti and b-boying in Hip-Hop/Rap. For this reason, Tricia Rose successfully communicated the relationship between graffiti, b-boying, and rap as black noise--black expression. Unfortunately, because the historical content of this text is limited to the relationship between Graffiti and b-boying within the black community--as it should--the text consequently loses insight on the contributions from non-black ethnic groups to these Hip-Hop elements. While Tricia Rose sought to make the black community the focal point of her writing, it seems confining to discussing the emergence of graffiti and B-boying without acknowledging its influence from/on different cultures (i.e Greek, Latino, and Asian)

Rose provides the reader a historical background explaining the emergence of these distinct forms of expression within the Hip Hop domain and greater black culture. She draws a picture of postindustrial New York, influenced by the growth of multinational telecommunications networks, technological revolution, global economic competition, new migration patterns from Third World countries, and changing divisions of labor.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. AUBOURG on April 6, 2011
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As an adult man in my 30's, this book reminds me why I loved hip hop and why I still do. Historically, it reconnects me of my past experience with the whole movement; and intellectually, it summarizes the power of hip hop...
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