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In the Heart of the Beat: The Poetry of Rap (African American Cultural Theory and Heritage) Hardcover – November 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
According to African American and African studies scholar Pate, rap is not just the emergent African American literary form of the postmodern age, but is responsible for scores of young people improbably embracing all the traditional and nontraditional poetic conventions of the English language (through a mix of cultural osmosis, miming, and instinct). Though he isn't quite able to justify a comparison between the phenomenon of rap and Gutenberg's invention of moveable type, Pate presents a strong case for the artistic and cultural importance of rap, analyzing lyrics and artists from multiple angles. Sizing up classic literary works from stalwarts like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and others alongside stanzas from rap songs, Pate finds eerie similarities in tone, message and style. He also contrasts the work of contemporaries within the genre, such as the straightforward pop of Young MC against the politically strident work of Public Enemy, examining rap's ability to offer a visceral, vital take on society-and to dive headfirst into society's most extreme indulgences. More than willing to admit the paucity of garbage mixed among the real art (as in any creative endeavor), Pate is also upfront about the role of profanity and misogyny in many compositions. Though he may court snoozing when he delves into more academic concerns like rhyme structure, this warts-and-all study of one of the preeminent art forms of today is vital and compelling, especially for dedicated listeners.
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The best parts of the book are those where Pate lists the words from popular rap music and opens the readers' minds to the imagery, the meaning, the structure, form, rhythm, and flow of the words . . . Pate does an excellent job of providing the reader with a new light and better perspective on rap music and its significant role in all of society but especially the African American culture. (Pop Culture Books, November 2009)
A sophisticated analysis of rap/poetry such as this is necessary if rap is to be evaluated for its composition, permanence, and significance. Pate's accessible writing style will captivate scholars as well as fans of rap, poetry, and the evolving culture of hip-hop. (Library Journal, December 2009)
Pate presents a strong case for the artistic and cultural importance of rap, analyzing lyrics and artists from multiple angles....This warts-and-all study of one of the preeminent art forms of today is vital and compelling, especially for dedicated listeners. (Publishers Weekly, January 2010)
What Pate has accomplished here is nothing less than an aesthetic standard for rap as poetry, which he tests against various examples of the rap genre….This is a groundbreaking work, necessary for connoisseurs of both poetry and rap music. (Sacramento News and Review, May 6, 2010)
My son [Ahi Baraka] put the book in my hand and said, 'This is one of the best books I've read.' (Amiri Baraka)
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