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Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (Suny Series, Postmodern Culture) Paperback – August 31, 1995


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Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (Suny Series, Postmodern Culture) + Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap (Cultureamerica) + Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Music Culture)
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Product Details

  • Series: Suny Series, Postmodern Culture
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (August 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791426262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791426265
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Russell A. Potter is Assistant Professor of English at Colby College. He hosts a weekly radio program, Roots-n-Rap, in Waterville, Maine.

More About the Author

Russell Potter was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio; he attended Goddard College and The Evergreen State College, and earned his Ph.D. in English from Brown University. He's the author of nonfiction books on topics as various as the history of Hip-hop and British Arctic exploration, and appeared in Arctic Passage, an episode of PBS's NOVA in 2006. His first novel, PYG: The Memoirs of Toby, the Learned Pig, is based on the career of an actual "learned" pig that appeared throughout England in the 1780's. The pig's ability to reply to all manner of inquiries amazed all who saw him prompted the poet Robert Southey to declare him "a far greater object of admiration to the English nation than ever was Sir Isaac Newton." Originally published in the UK by Canongate books, PYG is now out in paperback from Penguin Books, and has been translated into Swedish, Turkish, and Italian.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I find it incredible that this affluent and priviledged white male with a two hundred thousand dollar education could possibly know so much about hip-hop. Of course no one should take seriously his claim that this is in some way a 'risky' undertaking, especially from a well-paid academic. Still, Potter knows his stuff, is capable of taking in a great variety of the cultural discourse surrounding hip-hop and making sense of it (at least sometimes). I suppose this is just the kind of dull-as-driftwood analysis of a vibrant musical culture, but, as he points out, what else did you expect from an academic? I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to be conversant in everything hip-hop; just try not to sound like a rich white guy worshipping at the fount of Black creativitiy, won't you?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kuassivi Mensah on October 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...Drop your Baudrillard's, your Derrida's and other twisted old white men's tales, pomo doesn't have to be that hard. I think it's safe to say that outside Academia, most people interested in postmodernism are in it for the politics of reception: how we interprete and then reconstruct reality.

White America has been trying to put this 'Black Noize' in its place for quite a while, w/o much success, and this book goes in depths, to connect Hip Hop within the African Diaspora, as another practice to reconstruct 'Blackness' and 'Whiteness', both from within and outside the Eurocentric discourse.

The amazing thing about this book is its simplicity, no esoteric object-oriented writings, where each term convolutes into a web of meanings, no arcane knowledge or phD in phenomenology required here. Yet, it does get to the bottom of it all, Russel Potter reveals the constructed, mythic and dynamic form(s) of hip hop, or in postmodern terminology, Russel Potter signifies the tropes to reveal the symbolic exchange taking place within the various hip hop simulacra, and seduces the essentially simulated 'nature' of urban hyppereality imploding within the void of eurocentric and capitalistic discourses.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Garvey on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the crack of hip hop books. it will put your postmodern mind in a vernacular that is gonna make you bangin' mixtapes like its going outta style. after i read ths book in my senior year of college i changed my career path, and now i run a hip hop record label. now thats crack.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Russell A. Potter is a professor at Rhode Island College, where he serves as editor of the Arctic Book Review. He once wrote a column called "Roots 'n' Rap" for the online magazine "HardC.O.R.E./Headz Up!", and also hosted a "Roots 'n' Rap" radio show from 1993 to 1995.

He writes in the Introduction to this 1995 book, "I hope this book enters into the mix, bringing academics, performers, and all who care about society in a postmodern, post-industrial world together, dropping some knowledge and breaking down some barriers. I hope, too, that it does something to dispel the pernicious notion that rappers are somehow non- or anti-intellectual, or that in describing the crises facing urban America and the world they are somehow glamorizing or advocating the conditions of which they testify. On the academic side, I hope that no one will any longer be able to think of music OR poetry in the late twentieth century without assigning rappers a primary place, both out of an awareness of the urgency of their message, as well as on account of the tremendous poetic power and variety of their expression... I hope this book will help make evident the multiple connections between hip-hop's insurrectionary knowledges and the historical and societal forces against which they are posed, and in so doing expand and strengthen the depth of our determination to 'fight the powers that be.'"

He concludes the book on the note, "Pretending that even the best academic theories---or even the best hardcore raps---can, in and of themselves, change society would be naive, but if there can be a full-fledged alliance and interchange between vernacular cultural expressions and academics committed to expanding our understanding the contemporary moment (and the postmodern turn(s) it is taking), then perhaps some real ground would be gained. But it needs to happen soon, 'cos time ... is... running ... OUT."
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