From Publishers Weekly
In this series of 11 essays, journalists Hopkinson and Moore probe black male archetypes of the hip-hop generation, but the Howard University grads' superficial application of Jacques Derrida's "deconstruction theory" limits the impact of their effort. ("Tyrone," the everyman moniker in Erykah Badu's 1997 female anthem, is the authors' cultural catchall for these black men.) Written in cheeky, intellectual-yet-down vernacular, the strongest chapters deliver convention-bending twists on familiar types. They introduce Etan Thomas, an erudite basketball player with a taste for politics; hypermasculine showboat Kwame Kilpatrick, not pimping in a rap video but leaning back in Detroit's mayoral mansion; and a gay couple restoring their well-appointed Victorian home while the kids are away at camp. But too often, trendy cultural arguments and the minutiae of each subject's life eclipse deeper analysis. The essay on Kwame Kilpatrick is less about unveling meanings buried in media and public perceptions than evaluating his uneven mayoral record. Essays like "Babydaddy" and "Tyrones in Training" complicate boilerplate images of young, hip-hop–loving black men, but rely exclusively on the views of babymamas and teen girls. Hopkinson and Moore offer snap shots of alternative black masculinities, but don't really break new ground. (Dec.)
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The image of black masculinity is dominated these days by hip-hop culture, building on past images of violence and hypersexuality to form a modern archetype. Journalists Hopkinson and Moore have covered the black urban cultural and political scene and have garnered some insights into the image of the archetype they call "Tyrone." They examine Tyrone through the lens of media coverage of the music and sports industries, as well as through the perspectives of black women. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect or personality of the modern black male: Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, often called the "Hip-Hop Mayor"; the brainy son of a black militant, serving time for murder and mindful of the disproportionate incarceration of young black men; young blacks who start their own businesses as the economy fails to find places for them; black men as "babydaddies" but not husbands; and black men on the down-low, denying their homosexuality. In conclusion, Hopkinson and Moore offer personal reflections from mothers and adolescents on their hopes for the future of relationships between black men and women. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved