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Desi Rap: Hip-Hop and South Asian America Paperback – October 17, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Finally, a book that speaks to the full complexity of immigrant and Asian American lives through the Desi youth who are taking on the 'isms' and creating American culture through hip-hop solidarity. A must-read story about the future of America that is here today. (Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People)

South Asian Americans have created a unique, remix identity and culture at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation as revealed in Desi Rap, a collection of smart, engaging essays by some of the finest scholars and artists of the genre. Moreover, South Asian American hip-hop culture, the authors show, was conceived in resistance to oppression and mobilized a brown liberation movement. (Gary Y. Okihiro)

About the Author

Ajay Nair is Associate Vice Provost at the University of Pennsylvania. Murali Balaji is a lecturer and doctoral fellow at the College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (October 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739127225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739127223
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,859,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on April 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Cultural scholars have written extensively on the appeal of hip hop music and its attitude to many different oppressed or marginalized populations, with an influence that easily transcends the race or life experiences of the musicians and listeners. This book is a strong collection of essays from academics and artists on the unique phenomenon of hip hop acceptance by young Americans of South Asian descent. The first several articles are mostly professorial cultural analyses that can get overloaded with academic brain-drain words like "polyvalent," when discussing the appeal of the originally African American hip hop to South Asian kids yearning for an authoritative and compelling voice amidst White America. Though there are some surprises in this portion of the book, like Sumaina Maira's unforgiving look at racism as practiced by South Asian Americans, and semi-biographical essays from Deepti Hajela and Murali Balaji who temper the professor-ese with engaging tales of their own musical life experiences. The second half of the book mixes things up with essays from several important and successful South Asian rappers and DJ's, especially the intelligent and unconventional worldview of the DJ known as D'Lo.

This book might appear to be tailored for a very limited audience of South Asian cultural scholars, but thanks to open-minded and inclusive editing by Ajay Nair and Murali Balaji, the lessons herein are fascinating for anyone interested in polyculturalism and musical experiences that transcend race and class. [~doomsdayer520~]
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