Originally published on newsone.com
When John McWhorter landed a summer 2008 release date for his book All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America, those working behind the scenes to get it published correctly anticipated two variables that would give the book an edge: grassroots hip-hop organizers would be in full force this election season, and big name hip-hop stars would attach their names to youth-oriented get-out-the-vote efforts. What they didn’t predict was that McWhorter would not have done his research.
Who could blame them? McWhorter, a former linguistics professor at Cornell University and the University of California – Berkeley, is the author of 12 books and reads 13 languages. He has been outspoken about hip-hop in his New...
The recent uproar over the Ludacris pro-Obama rap song revealed once again that we are a nation willing to consume and enjoy hip-hop music, even as we refuse to understand hip-hop culture. The question “where does hip-hop end and Black culture begin?” would be a great start. Until we get there, what may be a speed bump for the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee today, poses an even bigger obstacle for hip-hop activists attempting to leverage hip-hop’s popularity into political influence this election season and beyond.
Senator Obama’s challenge is obvious. In the political mainstream hip-hop equals sex, violence, misogyny and criminal behavior. And no matter how fiercely it’s defended, this message doesn’t get explained away. Obama’s opponents (Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly...
Black Book magazine
Jay-Z likes to tell the story of the radio station that invited him in for an interview. He arrives, sits down at the mic and can't help wondering why he's surrounded by bottles of Cristal. "What's that for?" he asks. "You," the radio host responds. "Come on Be for real, man, like what—did you think I was going to be popping Cristal at ten o-clock in the morning?"
Pose a surface question to Jay-Z about his seeming obsession with all things bourgeois from the private jets to Benzes, designer clothing and beyond that have served as the backdrop for much of his highly successful rap career and expect a defensive response.
" A lot of my records, a lot of things I do I just really paint a picture, you know. And, sometimes I'm just...
Originally Published in Newsday
There comes a time in the life span of any art form when
becoming mainstream is a cause of celebration. (Happy to finally gain wider
recognition, after laboring so hard in the hinterlands.) And then there is that
other time when the realization comes crashing in that such mainstream
acceptance is the best indication that the art is quickly losing its soul. Now
is that time for hip-hop.
The Grammy Awards nominations (five each) for rappers Nelly and Eminem is
the latest such signpost that it's time (again) to reevaluate where hip-hop
stands relative to its humble beginnings and...