on May 9, 2012
Let me preface this review by saying I know very little about hip hop. I'm a white guy from the South. The extent of my personal hip hop knowledge is limited to the Beastie Boys. And, even just then I probably exposed how ignorant I really am as they probably wouldn't even be considered hip hop by many.
That said, being an Amazon Prime member I'm able to check out a free book periodically. Searching for Christian topics I found this one and it stuck out because it mentioned the writer was from Eatonville, Florida which is just a few miles from where I live in Orlando.
My 14 year old son -- who is also a Christian is also a huge fan of hip hop. I accepted it; but, had little desire to understand it.
The most amazing chapter (so far) for me was Track 3: Interlude: Moving In and Out where Professor Watkins comes about as close to a phenomenological description of hip hop. I felt what he felt reading it.
I found the common ground. I grew up listening to another style of street music. Punk Rock. I can't begin to recount the concerts that I've left feeling a spiritual connection.
My fuel was punk -- Professor Watkins fuel is hip hop.
I won't pretend that this book has made my ears appreciate hip hop. But, what it has done is removed a bias I comfortably held.
For the theologian (or amateur Christian philosopher) you'll enjoy the academic investigations conducted in this book. But, for the non-academic his writing is lucid enough that understanding comes natural. He's able to break down hip hop in the same vein that Mortimer J. Adler broke down philosophy.
It is very digestible.
on June 19, 2012
Admittedly at first glance at the title of this book I had two very different reactions almost simultaneously. The first was from my present as youth pastor and other was from my past as a teen listening to secular hip hop and rap. Either way I was intrigued and ready for the content of this book.
The book tells the author's personal story of becoming a fan of hip hop as an adult, explains the history of true hip hop with connection to its blues roots, and makes a case for the theology and redemptive qualities of hip hop. The first half of the book sets the stage well for "the what" of hip hop leading to the second half presenting "the why & how".
Dr. Watkins has done his research and addresses the topic personally and intellectually. He tackles the normal concerns of the American church and its reactionary views to the music, the lifestyle, and the scene. His rationale and defense is well thought, while I admit I may not agree at every point. I however appreciate and love this raw & real book. With so much of rap and hip hop culture influencing our students no matter your context, this is a true resource. It may not be a book you hand to a student or parent, but it is a book that should be read by any youth pastor seeking to be more culturally aware and informed.
on July 25, 2013
Please do not dismiss Hip Hop because the style is not what you are accustomed to. When your ears are attuned enough you will pick up the deep meaning of the message wrapped up in the lyrics and the rap of Hip Hop. The Hip Hop culture is about Truth. It recognises the many aspects of the unique struggle of their generation, and supports, communicates and protests. These Rap artists are that ordinary ' boy next door', unexpectedly gifted, inspired,, as were those prophets we can read about in the Old Testament. It is pointing to the politicians, the local leaders,to the comfortably off middle class, and to our churches. It is calling out to us to make a difference. Will we listen?
This is a very good read, full of surprises.