From Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” to Jay-Z, Diddy, and 50 Cent, Hip Hop Culture is the first comprehensive reference work to focus on one of the most influential cultural phenomena of our time. Scholarly and streetwise, backed by statistics, documents, and research, it recounts three decades of Hip Hop’s evolution, highlighting its defining events, recordings, personalities, movements, and ideas, as well as society’s response.

How did an inner-city subculture, all but dismissed in the early 1980s, become the ruler of the world’s airwaves and iPods? Who are the players who moved Hip Hop from the record bins to the pinnacles of entertainment, business, and fashion? Who are the founders, innovators, legends, and major players? Authoritative and authentic, Hip Hop Culture provides a wealth of information and insights for students, educators, and anyone interested in the ways pop culture reflects and shapes our lives.

Review from BOOKLIST

Here is an attractive volume that covers the history and elements of “Hip Hop Culture” (the author uses capital letters to distinguish between Hip Hop Culture and hip-hop, the musical genre also known as rap) from its beginnings in the sixties through mid-2005. The first section of the book consists of a series of four essays, for example, “Issues in Hip Hop,” which has subsections on “Can East Coast Hip Hop and West Coast Hip Hop Coexist?”; “Has Hip Hop Misrepresented Women?”; and other topics. The essays are followed by a year-by-year chronology. The longest section in the book contains biographical sketches–a page or so for each influential person or group, from Afrika Bambaataa through X-Ecutioners. Chuck D and Flava Flav don’t have their own biographies, but they are in the entry for Public Enemy. Similarly, Lil’ Kim and Lil’ Romeo are not treated in separate entries but are mentioned in the text and can be found through the index. A few women, such as Missy Elliott and Salt-n-Pepa, rate their own biographies. Other chapters list data (for example, percentage of dollars spent, listeners by age and ethnicity); awards; selected organizations (the DJ Project, Universal Zulu Nation); and annotated print and nonprint resources, including documentaries and commercial releases such as “Save the Last Dance” and “Don’t Be a Menace.” Appendixes list the 30 most-influential hip-hop albums and the 50 most-influential singles, starting with “Rapper’s Delight.” A glossary of terms and a thorough index round out the volume.

The author is editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and an assistant professor of music and African American studies. His style is somewhat scholarly despite the subject’s popularity.

Even with some questions about who or what the author has included, this will be used in reference collections; larger libraries will want a circulating copy, too. Its information mix complements the strictly A-Z Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture (Greenwood, 2005). Susan Gooden
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review from Midwest Book Review

Hip hop began as an alternative street lingo but has swept the world to become a dominant, lasting social force rather than just another musical fad – and HIP HOP CULTURE documents the sweeping progress of the movement as a whole, providing a narrative history pairing photos of hiphop styles and peoples with a glossary of terms, a bibliography of associated resources, and an analysis of the most influential songs of the movement. Chapters thus blend biographical sketches with an overall attention to cultural change to make this essential reading for any student of the movement.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch

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