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Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Refiguring American Music) [Paperback]

Nitasha Tamar Sharma

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Book Description

August 17, 2010 0822347601 978-0822347606
Hip Hop Desis explores the aesthetics and politics of South Asian American (desi) hip hop artists. Nitasha Tamar Sharma argues that through their lives and lyrics, young “hip hop desis” express a global race consciousness that reflects both their sense of connection with Blacks as racialized minorities in the United States and their diasporic sensibility as part of a global community of South Asians. She emphasizes the role of appropriation and sampling in the ways that hip hop desis craft their identities, create art, and pursue social activism. Some desi artists produce what she calls “ethnic hip hop,” incorporating South Asian languages, instruments, and immigrant themes. Through ethnic hip hop, artists, including KB, Sammy, and Deejay Bella, express “alternative desiness,” challenging assumptions about their identities as South Asians, children of immigrants, minorities, and Americans. Hip hop desis also contest and seek to bridge perceived divisions between Blacks and South Asian Americans. By taking up themes considered irrelevant to many Asian Americans, desi performers, such as D’Lo, Chee Malabar of Himalayan Project, and Rawj of Feenom Circle, create a multiracial form of Black popular culture to fight racism and enact social change.

Frequently Bought Together

Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Refiguring American Music) + 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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Editorial Reviews


“As the first ethnography of South Asian American hip hop artists, this book is a welcome contribution to the study of hip hop, cultural ownership, and South Asian and black relations. The perspectives of Sharma and the desi hip hop artists at the centre of this study help to move the discussion beyond insular views of South Asian American youth culture to consider alternate subcultural identities and cross-racial alliances. . . . Sharma’s insightful and well-researched book has broadened the dialog regarding the role of musical communities in the forging of black and brown diasporic alliances.” - Carl Clements, Journal of Intercultural Studies

Hip Hop Desis is an exceptional book . . . Eschewing traditional analyses of relations between Asian and African Americans, Sharma convincingly shows how desis’ embrace of hip hop disrupts existing social divisions, and generates new possibilities for envisioning a ‘global race consciousness.’” - Justin Scarimbolo, Notes

“This is a powerhouse of a contribution to the study of hip-hop culture. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” - A. C. Shahriari, Choice

“If anyone doubts that the hip hop desis have become a cultural phenomenon, reading Sharma's Hip Hop Desis . . . could challenge the notion.” - Arthur Pais, India Abroad

“This book will be of interest to critical race scholars, cultural sociologists, and interdisciplinary scholars of hip-hop as well as South Asian Americanists. It is an important contribution to the general literature on immigration and immigrants and the scholarship on racism.” - Bandana Purkayastha, American Journal of Sociology

Hip Hop Desis is peopled with young, innovative characters who want to break out of the restraints that surround them: restraints of community and of stereotype. They are a joy to read about, and Nitasha Tamar Sharma takes us along with her generous analysis. We learn a lot about the magnificence of hip hop culture, how it draws people in and draws them to grow outwards. All of this makes Hip Hop Desis first-rate.”—Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World

“Investigating the meaning of hip hop for a dedicated group of South Asian American producers, DJs, rappers, and enthusiasts, Nitasha Tamar Sharma does important work illuminating the complexities of the racial order in the United States. She shows how identities formed through consumption and creative expression shape and reflect civic and political identities.”—George Lipsitz, author of Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music

“This bold, innovative critique of an under-explored area of hip hop culture significantly expands the field of hip hop scholarship. With this book, Nitasha Tamar Sharma makes an important contribution to our understanding of the complex ways that youth from various racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds are absorbing hip hop culture, respecting its cultural origins, and reshaping it in their own image.”—Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture

About the Author

Nitasha Tamar Sharma is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University.

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