In this brief, scholarly book, freelance journalist Rivera acknowledges Puerto Ricans for their contributions to hip-hop music over the past 30 years. It's debatable just how much credit is deserved, considering Rivera comes up with only a handful of recognizable players who predate the culture-wide "Latino boom" of the past few years-Fat Joe, Angie Martinez and the late Big Punisher, the biggest-selling Latino rapper of all time. But she still crafts a persuasive revisionist history through painstaking research and original reporting. She points out that while Puerto Ricans and African-Americans collaborated to create hip-hop in the early 1970s South Bronx and shared a ghetto-based entitlement, Puerto Ricans had to "step lightly through the identity minefield." For much of the 1980s and '90s, Puerto Ricans' "participation and entitlement" were questioned as hip-hop became more exclusively African American. Many Puerto Rican performers further alienated themselves from the hip-hop center by embracing Latino culture and rapping in Spanish, while others identified more strongly with African Americans and downplayed their Caribbean roots. Since the mid-'90s, of course, hip-hop has begun to embrace Latino culture (such as J. Lo) for better or worse; Rivera is troubled by rap's Latino stereotypes of sexy "Butta Pecan Ricans" and "tough-guy papi chulos." The only serious difficulty with this useful book is in navigating Rivera's oft-impenetrable academese ("Behind inclusion lies the specter of subsumption and dismissal"). Then again, Rivera, who has a doctorate in sociology, may have intended this work for a liberal arts classroom: it's clearly not for the b-boys and b-girls.
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