on April 3, 1999
I find it incredible that this affluent and priviledged white male with a two hundred thousand dollar education could possibly know so much about hip-hop. Of course no one should take seriously his claim that this is in some way a 'risky' undertaking, especially from a well-paid academic. Still, Potter knows his stuff, is capable of taking in a great variety of the cultural discourse surrounding hip-hop and making sense of it (at least sometimes). I suppose this is just the kind of dull-as-driftwood analysis of a vibrant musical culture, but, as he points out, what else did you expect from an academic? I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to be conversant in everything hip-hop; just try not to sound like a rich white guy worshipping at the fount of Black creativitiy, won't you?
on October 30, 2006
...Drop your Baudrillard's, your Derrida's and other twisted old white men's tales, pomo doesn't have to be that hard. I think it's safe to say that outside Academia, most people interested in postmodernism are in it for the politics of reception: how we interprete and then reconstruct reality.
White America has been trying to put this 'Black Noize' in its place for quite a while, w/o much success, and this book goes in depths, to connect Hip Hop within the African Diaspora, as another practice to reconstruct 'Blackness' and 'Whiteness', both from within and outside the Eurocentric discourse.
The amazing thing about this book is its simplicity, no esoteric object-oriented writings, where each term convolutes into a web of meanings, no arcane knowledge or phD in phenomenology required here. Yet, it does get to the bottom of it all, Russel Potter reveals the constructed, mythic and dynamic form(s) of hip hop, or in postmodern terminology, Russel Potter signifies the tropes to reveal the symbolic exchange taking place within the various hip hop simulacra, and seduces the essentially simulated 'nature' of urban hyppereality imploding within the void of eurocentric and capitalistic discourses.
Russell A. Potter is a professor at Rhode Island College, where he serves as editor of the Arctic Book Review. He once wrote a column called "Roots 'n' Rap" for the online magazine "HardC.O.R.E./Headz Up!", and also hosted a "Roots 'n' Rap" radio show from 1993 to 1995.
He writes in the Introduction to this 1995 book, "I hope this book enters into the mix, bringing academics, performers, and all who care about society in a postmodern, post-industrial world together, dropping some knowledge and breaking down some barriers. I hope, too, that it does something to dispel the pernicious notion that rappers are somehow non- or anti-intellectual, or that in describing the crises facing urban America and the world they are somehow glamorizing or advocating the conditions of which they testify. On the academic side, I hope that no one will any longer be able to think of music OR poetry in the late twentieth century without assigning rappers a primary place, both out of an awareness of the urgency of their message, as well as on account of the tremendous poetic power and variety of their expression... I hope this book will help make evident the multiple connections between hip-hop's insurrectionary knowledges and the historical and societal forces against which they are posed, and in so doing expand and strengthen the depth of our determination to 'fight the powers that be.'"
He concludes the book on the note, "Pretending that even the best academic theories---or even the best hardcore raps---can, in and of themselves, change society would be naive, but if there can be a full-fledged alliance and interchange between vernacular cultural expressions and academics committed to expanding our understanding the contemporary moment (and the postmodern turn(s) it is taking), then perhaps some real ground would be gained. But it needs to happen soon, 'cos time ... is... running ... OUT."