From Publishers Weekly
At first glance, one might not expect a British novelist to be a particularly insightful commentator on hip-hop, "the most elemental expression of contemporary America." But starting with a description of his first encounter with a rap record in the mid-1980s, Neate displays a sympathy and sensitivity to the musical genre many American critics would be hard-pressed to match. A trek to examine hip-hop's global influence begins with a visit to New York—and a willing acknowledgment that this city is only one facet of the complex American hip-hop scene. Neate's recognition of his own limitations increases his credibility as he drops in on the subcultures in Japan, South Africa and Brazil to see how fans are "keeping it real." He sees in hip-hop a powerful voice of protest against the status quo and is adamant about the need for its creators to wrest financial control of their music away from multinational media companies. His recommendation that American hip-hop artists start cultivating a deeper global political consciousness may come across as overly didactic, but it's the culmination of a consistent awareness of the ways in which non-Americans are already using the music to describe and define their lives.
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Taking its title from an old Eric B and Rakim track called "I Know You Got Soul," Neate's book is not so much an analysis of worldwide hip-hop as it is "hip-hop's story of how it conquered the world and nobody noticed." Writing like an academic "b-boy," Neate takes us on a journey: he visits one of his favorite independent record labels in New York; goes clubbing in Tokyo, where hip-hop "may have more to do with style than substance"; and also drops in on the local scene in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Rio. From the violence of South Africa to the consumerist lunacy of Japan, Neate explores how the music created a different sort of globalism--that is, a process through which black America is assimilated by different cultures on many different continents. Neate, the author of the Whitbread-winning novel Twelve-Bar Blues
(2002), is a compelling storyteller, and although he comes at his subject here as a fan, readers unfamiliar with the genre won't feel left out. A persuasive examination of the worldwide hip-hop phenomenon. Carlos OrellanaCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved