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Where You're At Paperback – August 3, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594480125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594480126
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Orellana
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Even then, not being a native, I would still have to speak as an admitted outsider.
I suppose a good bit of my disappointment with the book resulted from the fact that it's subject matter didn't really conform to my expectations.
The guy knows his stuff, and the references to lyrics, songs etc. flow along really well as you're reading.
Anna Billstrom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pearl on September 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up at a literary agency I was interning at this summer and I was completely blown away. I am not a hip-hop head (is this a British term?) myself -- in fact, metal and hard rock are my genres -- but this book manages to explore the dialectics of a marginalized subculture in a way that is immediate and enlightening, bringing the grim urban realities as well as the privileged suburban fantasizings involved in hip-hop subculture to life, offering a very intimate view into what drives this passion both for the author himself and for a variety of cultures and key cities around the globe.

It presents a variety of interesting socio-cultural issues without being pedantic, and best of all, the author is very unapologetic about making the book strictly his own -- his quest for his truth, his answers, all situated within possible truths and answers that may exist for other people.

For someone coming from the other side of the mythical music border (I know, I know, metal has grass-roots in hip hop) this book was an amazing read, and has offered me an inside glimpse into this genre that has heightened my respect and admiration for it even more. Just think what it could do for you -- a hip hop head!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anna Billstrom on April 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
The author intersperses personal experiences, interviews with rappers, record labels, and kids on the street to describe a movement of hip hop, or an explanation of what hip hop is today.

He pieces this book together very well, and its organization is a testiment to his skill as a writer and journalist.

I noticed a weak point in that the repetition of thequestion and answer of "what hip hop is" in almost every paragraph and chapter, if you have an issue with what it is, or a personal concern that is regarding it, you maybe more interested.

His span of the globe also has a kind of import to his thesis that he doesn't really explain (why give as much time/space to French and African hip hop, for example, in what I found was a very slender volume.) OK, I'm from the West Coast and the focus on NYC got a bit tiresome too.

Partway through the book I also realized that if I started reading this knowing it would be more about business and economics I wouldn't feel this little trace of disappointment.

I don't want to make it seem like it's a bad book, because it really is good. The guy knows his stuff, and the references to lyrics, songs etc. flow along really well as you're reading. I wish there were more people writing about hip hop, their experiences with it and history of it. I've already started a list of tracks I want to from this book!

There is a kind of problem with writing about hip hop without being a lyricist- especially in a musical genre that is so self-parodying and self-critizing. You just get bogged down in pretension or stiffness, maybe. But it usefully opens a dialogue about/on issues of sellout music, the underground, and the media.
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Format: Paperback
As Patrick Neate is seemingly eager to point out, hip-hop comprises more than just a musical genre. He outlines early on in his book Where You're At the nebulous four/five elements of hip-hop culture: emceeing, DJing, graffiti, break dancing, and sometimes consciousness. Where You're At concerns itself mainly with the social aspects of the culture as Neate travels across the world to provide a snapshot of how the genre has been appropriated and adapted in different countries. Spanning five cities in four countries across the world, the author focuses on their racial and sociological environments and links them to greater hip-hop culture. Unfortunately, the book reads like an overly academic reflection on urban racial identity and politics and is hindered by Neate's naive obsession with wresting hip-hop from corporations and materialistic rappers and return it to the alienated urban masses who started it.

The book follows a pretty set formula. Neate will travel to some city (he goes to New York, Tokyo, Johannesberg, Cape Town, and Rio) starts each section by providing some background about the history of hip-hop in the region and how it has evolved. The portions where he explains the lyrical and musical nature of the global variations are some of the most interesting parts of the book, such as how Brazillians seem to be far more amenable to overtly political music and the derivative nature of a lot of Japanese hip-hop. He will then proceed to interview several underground artists or activists associated with hip-hop who generally emphasize positivity and eschew the mainstream. Then he goes to a club or two and describes his surroundings.
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