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Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present Paperback – May 1, 1997


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Paperback, May 1, 1997
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: The Ecco Press; 2 edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880015357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880015356
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based primarily on the authors' experiences hanging out with the owners of a small rap music production company, the first part of this long essay on understanding rap describes the setting in which this subversive music has arisen--the urban ghetto, in this case, the North Dorchester section of Boston. We get a vivid picture of rap's real-life context in an area of poverty, drugs and various types of radical activity, an environment closed to upscale whites by the barriers of fear and oppression. The music similarly remains for whites, assert the authors, "like little more than looking at something venomous in a tightly closed jar." Much of the book is devoted to a critical explication and validation of rap, including literary and historical analysis, placing it, for instance, in the context of African oral tradition. But away from the stark truths of reportage, the authors--Costello is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan; Wallace wrote the novel The Broom of the System --often get mired in theoretical hyperbole and digression. They claim to be the first whites to appreciate its political radicalness and artistic value, calling rap "quite possibly the most important stuff happening in American poetry today."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text is now back in wider circulation because of an uptick in Pale King sales. It was a quick and easy read compared to other DFW work, but remarkably less funny. The only humor is realizing that Costello and Wallace are handing off the mic between chapters like two amiable MCs.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bradley A. Johns on March 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Yes this book is outdated, and yes this book is wordy, but thats what makes it so great. This is an exploration of two nerdy white guys resting on the cusp of what we now know was an cultural explosion, and one which they seem to have known, though at the time it had nothing to do with them that it soon would have eveything to do with them and us too. Furthermore some of the forecasting that they do is so right on its scary..

These guys are taliking agbout NWA like its current because it was current! Take this book as an opportunity to view one of those rare historical accounts that happens before the storm and seems to have something good to say about why it started raining in the first place..
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
costello and wallace examine rap culture and rappers as they influence our society. although at times it seems like they are being narrow minded, this book examines what shapes society and how society can react to these things. the book goes well beyond merely rap music and examines how society is influenced and how it influences. anyone who reads this and sees it as simply a look at rap music is missing the entire point of the book.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lindemann Malone on January 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Foster Wallace and Mark Costello are too cute by half in this book, and it is horribly out of date. (Just to give an idea, A Tribe Called Quest, who were considered an elder statesman group when they broke up two years ago, had not yet released an album when this book was published.) But most of the analysis of rap's place within popular culture remains somehow applicable to the current scene if you are willing to do a bunch of critical work along the same lines and ignore the dumber flights of fancy. Still a fun book to read and a fun book to debate. Not to be missed if you remember when LL Cool J was good and you have read anything by a master of postmodern philosophy.
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1 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
i am actually doing a report on rap and selected this book expecting some insight...i was surprised. it seems like some of this was even just put here to take up space; i was dissapointed, expecting something better from costello. a point of view not needed in most situations. of course, ten years ago it might have been close to adequate--now it seems totally inadequate to use in my report.
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