Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop Hardcover – July 2, 2007
Learn more about the top issues of this year's presidential race with these books sponsored by Wiley.Learn more.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Many of the critiques stem from the expectation of hip hop to be a tangible expression of social commentary or political criticism. Fundamentally, hip hop is neither. Hip Hop is an art form containing "hyperbole, parody, kitsch, dramatic license, and double entedres." Dyson frequently argues that hip hop should be held to no higher standards towards sociological representation or politics than any other art form or institution that could also be a vehicle for social commentary or political criticism (i.e. the Church).
Dyson embarks upon a series of conversations structured within an "album concept". Two of the most frequented topics through out the five tracks are misogyny and the heterosexism of hip hop. While some of the ills of hip hop can be attributed or connected to cultural amnesia, male privilege and/or religious reflections, Dyson does not draw any parallels with the attempt to excuse or validate the presence of sexism or homophobia within rap music or hip hop culture.
Dyson has constructed his text, his speech and his career into a strong argument for hip hop and a lasting testament of the relevance and dignity of Black Culture and Urban Culture within our Global World.
Though there are a few points in the book that I flat out disagree with and believe his argument is weak/misguided, I enjoyed the vast majority of the book. A bit brisk, but insightful. I would recommend it to others and I will be reading some of Dyson's other work.
Dyson has a way with words... and he knows it. His arrogance comes out in the way he speaks down to his audience. He is educating us, so he should not be questioned. He speaks with the air that as long as he uses pretty language, it must be truth. The problem is that Dyson's "facts" are skewed. He takes the information he wants to take in order to support his premise. That premise seems to be that black people are disadvantaged, white people don't care, rap music is good because it's black (even if it falls short in any number of areas), white people who joke about race are innately bad, black people who spew hateful (not joking) comments about race are simply doing what they know to do... and on and on.
My issue with books like this is that people are reading these. Young college kids look up to Dyson as a mentor and believe that he is a contemporary voice of the black American society. In reality, he is creating issues that are less present than he would have us think. White women do not toss their hair because they are trying to flaunt their beauty and sex appeal. They are tossing their hair because it's in their way. And I don't appreciate the way he speaks about the comparison between black and white hair. Jill Scott and Esperanza Spalding and so many other gorgeous black women have stunning "natural" black hair that I could never achieve. THAT is what should be emphasized. What about the recent appreciation of beautiful black women? There are more mixed relationships now than ever, and more white, Hispanic and Asian men are realizing and appreciating the beauty of black women. While the black men are hesitating to marry their "own" women, other ethnicities are recognizing the treasure... That's a generalization, I know. Lots of black men still marry black women (and other ethnicities as well). Dyson is, himself, a prime example of the American melting pot, and rather than identifying himself with the "black" culture, should be identifying with the multi-cultural/multi-ethnic American.
The reality is that Hip-Hop is NOT a race culture. It is a societal, generational and artistic culture. There are just as many non-blacks submerged in the Hip-Hop culture as there are blacks. To address the matter as if it's relevant to one race, is to do a disservice to the art and to the culture, as well as to the race. The issues that Dyson speaks about, are primarily separated from the rest of society by locale and economic factors rather than race. And more importantly, the culture is generally one that is dependent on welfare (a whole other issue), not the working poor such as my own background. Again, to simply draw things in black and white (literally), is to miss a whole lot of the point. The book is severely handicapped.
What bothers me the most is the incredible self-aggrandizement of the writer, and of some other US scholars for that matter. The intro by Jay-Z and outro by Nas are nothing but ridiculously over-the-top appraisals for the writer. Shouldn't the book and the author be able to speak for themselves?? Also, what's up with the "album-like" chapters, with "label", "samples" etc.? It's just awkward.