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Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement Paperback


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Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement + 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

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807009865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807009864
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beneath the glitz and glut of mainstream hip-hop, there's an underground movement of "conscious rap," political angst and an anticapitalist ethos that would make even Bill Gates throw his hands in the air. That conscious rap is what Watkins, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, champions in this solid book. It's an ambitious attempt to cover a culture that began in the late '70s and is now an almost universal influence on global youth. Watkins wisely chooses to focus on what has not been said—like that it was a 43-year-old woman who produced hip-hop's first hit, "Rapper's Delight," or that hip-hop lit is one of the fastest-growing markets in book publishing. He tells his version of hip-hop's history in lyrical prose, often mirroring the rhythms and wordplay of the music he's discussing. He doesn't assert an overt thesis, but it's clear he believes that the more conscious, political hip-hop (think Common instead of Fifty Cent) is what has the potential to revolutionize youth, and by extension, America. This is undoubtedly a book for fans, but it is also an intriguing look at how hip-hop has become part of a universal cultural conversation. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Watkins considers hip-hop a "vital source of creativity and industry for youth," one that has developed a "reputation as a spectacular cultural movement committed to defying the cultural and political mainstream" while representing "the voices and experiences of a generation of marginal youths." He assesses the social and political aspects of the movement and the music, duly noting the irony of how hip-hop's "livelihood . . . [depends] almost entirely on its ability to sell black death" and requires its performers to "immerse themselves into a world of urban villainy." In service of inquiry, he also surveys "the communities, constituencies, and currents that make up the movement"; introduces readers to Kwame Kilpatrick, the self-billed hip-hop mayor of Detroit; and draws extensively on a wide-ranging interview by Minister Louis Farrakhan of rapper Ja Rule that is concerned with Ja's contretemps with rival rapper 50 Cent and with the message their posturing and negativity sends. Quite an exposition of all things hip-hop. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

S. Craig Watkins writes about youth, media, technology, and society. He is an Assoc. Prof. of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandria M. Washington on February 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
When comedian Michael "Kramer" Richards went on his infamous November 2006 `racial tirade'--spewing venomous racist epithets, notably the `n-word,' at two Black hecklers--an explosion of video downloading and heated debate ensued around the world. Within the Black community the `n-word' was once again put under our cultural microscope. Not only did we look to Black comedians and civic leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson for guidance, we also looked to hip hop and our beloved rappers. Counsel was sought from various members of the hip-hop community, including the deceased where even Tupac's n-bomb-filled lyrics were scrutinized. If hip-hop's elite--the tastemakers and trendsetters known for perpetuating the use of the `n-word' in pop culture--could agree on the fate of the `n-word' the issue would be settled. Perhaps this assumption oversimplifies a complex debate, but it justifiably recognizes hip hop has a voice. Hip hop has power. Hip hop matters.

In his latest critical analysis of hip hop, Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, author and associate professor S. Craig Watkins further advances this message of hip hop's importance and influence. Far from a dry chronology through the history of hip hop, Hip Hop Matters is a passionate study of hip hop's rise to power and what those within the movement and beyond have done (and in some cases, have not done) with that power. Watkins' well-executed mixture of hip-hop nostalgia and historical facts makes his text poised for recommended reading for both pop culture enthusiasts and hip-hop activists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joy Jenkins on September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a cerebral discussion pertaining to a variety of issues within the world of hip-hop. The author gives the reader thorough insight into the history of hip-hop as well as pertinent information on things that are extremely important to the world of hip-hop and beyond.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Dunkel on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
While this is a writer from the world of academia, the book does a good job at presenting hip hop as a socio-political movement that has been overshadowed by hype and controversy that did not generate from the core values of the movement. Sort of like judging Christianity by looking at Jim Jones and saying he represented Christian values.....
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