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Hip Hop's Inheritance
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text of book Hip Hop's Inheritance

Hip Hop's Inheritance

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Publication Date: 2011
Category: General
Grades: Recommended
Number of Pages: 266
Appropriate for: Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students
Choice rating: 
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About this title

Hip Hop's Inheritance arguably offers the first book-length treatment of what hip hop culture has, literally, "inherited" from the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts movement, the Feminist Art movement, and 1980s and 1990s postmodern aesthetics. By comparing and contrasting the major motifs of the aforementioned cultural aesthetic traditions with those of hip hop culture, all the while critically exploring the origins and evolution of black popular culture from antebellum America through to "Obama's America," Hip Hop's Inheritance demonstrates that the hip hop generation is not the first generation of young black (and white) folk preoccupied with spirituality and sexuality, race and religion, entertainment and athletics, or ghetto culture and bourgeois culture. Taking interdisciplinarity and intersectionality seriously, Hip Hop's Inheritance employs the epistemologies and methodologies from a wide range of academic and organic intellectual/activist communities in its efforts to advance an intellectual history and critical theory of hip hop culture. Drawing from academic and organic intellectual/activist communities as diverse as African American studies and women's studies, postcolonial studies and sexuality studies, history and philosophy, politics and economics, and sociology and ethnomusicology, Hip Hop's Inheritance calls into question one-dimensional and monodisciplinary interpretations or, rather, misinterpretations, of a multidimensional and multivalent form of popular culture that has increasingly come to include cultural criticism, social commentary, and political analysis.

About author
Reiland Rabaka

Reiland Rabaka is an associate professor of Africana Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is also an affiliate professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program and a Research Fellow at the Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America (CSERA). He is the author of several books, including: Du Bois's Dialectics (2008); Africana Critical Theory (2009); Forms of Fanonism (2010); and, Against Epistemic Apartheid (2010).


Rabaka, Reiland. Hip hop's inheritance: from the Harlem Renaissance to the hip hop feminist movement. Lexington Books, 2011. 284p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739164808; ISBN 9780739164815 pbk; ISBN 9780739164822 e-book. Reviewed in 2012mar CHOICE.

Rabaka (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) offers a sweeping historical assessment of cultural ideologies connecting hip-hop to artistic innovations of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts movements. He mobilizes cultural theorists--Baraka, Foucault, DuBois, Jameson, Said, Fanon, Hurston--to describe the evolution of African American intellectual and cultural history via "radical humanism, and democratic socialism." Sprawling overviews of Africana critical theory, feminist theory, and queer theory imagine "anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, and sexual orientation-sensitive critical theory of contemporary society." The author provides interesting, if diffuse, discussion of gay literary voices in the Harlem Renaissance in relation to the contemporary homo-hop movement; Black Arts Movement members' perception of the "aesthetic radicalism of the Harlem Renaissance"; and the "black aesthetic" sensibility that "'authentic' black art was always historically grounded, politically engaged, socially uplifting, and consciousness-raising." In exploring the relationships between the black women's liberation, feminist art, and hip-hop feminist movements, Rabaka mines work by Patricia Collins. In a final chapter, he considers postmodernist approaches to popular culture while asserting that "rap music re-Africanizes and reanimates African American music, all the while continuing the African Americanization of mainstream American music and popular culture." Energetic, overwritten, and theoretical, the book includes no analysis of artistic examples.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students. -- T. F. DeFrantz, Duke University

Copyright 2013 American Library Association


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