Originally uploaded by Unbowed.
There are a whole range of works that deal with the politics of hip-hop. Given the freight placed on hip-hop as a social/political movement, this is understandable. Hell, I’m at work as we speak on my own foray into this growing field.
But at the same time there is a need to look at hip-hop on its own terms. To develop a critical language that allows us to compare and contrast the flow of JayZ vs. that of Too Short. At base hip-hop is NOT a culture, it is a form of ART that is comprised of four elements–MCing, DJing, breaking, and graffiti.
My man Jelani Cobb–I’ve known him virtually for several years but only met him personally this weekend–has written a new book called To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip-Hop Aesthetic. If you are at all interested in the growth of hip-hop as an artform please check it out. I think he probably focuses too much on the blues and on comparisons to the blues for my tastes, but for a book that was literally a side excursion while working on an anti-communism manuscript, this was extremely well done.
(Picture taken at the Reginald Lewis History Museum.)