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Can't Stop, Won't Stop
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About the Author

Jeff Chang has been a hip-hop journalist for more than a decade and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, Vibe, The Nation, URB, Rap Pages, Spin, and Mother Jones. He was a founding editor of Colorlines Magazine, senior editor at Russell Simmons's 360hiphop.com, and cofounder of the influential hip-hip label SoleSides, now Quannum Projects. He lives in California.

Reviews

Hip-hop journalist Chang looks back on 30 years of the cultural landscape, with a particular focus on the African-American street scene, in this engaging and extensive debut. Chang shows how hip-hop arose in the rubble of the Bronx in the 1970s, when youth unemployment hit 60%-80%; traces the music through the black-Jewish racial conflicts of 1980s New York to the West Coast scene and the L.A. riots; and follows it to the Kristal-soaked, bling-encrusted corporate rap of today. Chang's balanced assessment of rap's controversial trappings neither condemns gang culture nor forgives its sins, but places gangs in the conditions that birthed them and illustrates their influence on street culture. Chang also examines art forms that arose alongside the music: the b-boys ("break dancers") with their James Brown-inspired, acrobatic battles and the graffiti artists, who practiced their defiant, "outlaw art" on the sides of subway trains and any other flat surface available. The vivid narrative alternates between Chang's historical elucidation and first-person accounts from the major players, including DJ Kool Herc, the mythic DJ who started it all at a West Bronx party; Afrika Bambaataa, who crossed gang boundaries for block parties, inspiring scores of others to enact truces and do the same; and Kurtis Blow, the first major-label rap artist, along with countless more. Most importantly, he documents stories that have been left unrecorded until now, with the oral histories of the gangs and artists. Illus. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-This isn't a musical history, but rather an urban social history. While learning about those who originated hip-hop, readers are informed of the social conditions that led to its creation in the Bronx and its expanding popularity. In the '70s, the borough was in the throes of an urban-development scheme that left it cut off from the rest of New York City by major highway construction, as illustrated by two small maps. With crushing poverty and little to do, teens turned to gangs, but also to house parties, break dancing, and graffiti. Soon, Lower East Side art dealers and club owners discovered the scene and brought it to the mainstream. But hip-hop wasn't destined to be a fad, and suburban Long Island's Public Enemy appeared, followed a few years later by the Los Angeles scene, led by NWA and Ice Cube. The contrast between the Bronx gangs of the '70s and the Crips and Bloods of the '90s shows how rap lyrics-and the daily lives of rappers-got more violent. This is an extremely well-researched, heavily footnoted, thoroughly indexed book that, although lengthy, isn't the dry scholarly read it might appear to be. Chang wears his left-leaning sensibilities on his sleeve, and artists who tried to advance the art form are given more attention, to the detriment of those who were shallower but just as popular. The conclusion the book draws is its real strength-hip-hop is the culture of youth, and teens today have never known a world without it.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

One of Slate's 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years "The birth of hip-hop out of the ruin of the South Bronx is a story that has been told many times, but never with the cinematic scope and the analytic force that Jeff Chang brings to it. . . . This is one of the most urgent and passionate histories of popular music ever written." --The New Yorker "This is a book that should be on the shelves of every high school and college library, an engaging and entertaining full-blown excursion into American inner-city culture's rapid proliferation into every nook and cranny of culture at large." --Los Angeles Weekly "Chang tells these stories beautifully . . . provocative." --The New York Times Book Review "When Hip-Hop 101 becomes a requirement, Jeff Chang's history of the turmoil that begat this beloved culture will be the go-to textbook." --Vibe magazine "The most important new genre of the last quarter century finally has a sweeping historical overview as powerful as the music with Can't Stop Won't Stop . . . the best-argued, most thoroughly researched case for hip-hop as a complete and truly American culture." --Chicago Sun-Times "Jeff Chang's new and necessary book . . . delivers a vivid account of the last third of the American twentieth century. . . . The book is as much a cultural history as a music history." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "His scope is operatic, sprawling, and concerns itself with the people, places, and politics that drove hip-hop from its infancy. . . . It is essentially a people's history . . . perhaps Jeff Chang is hip-hop America's Howard Zinn." --Salon.com
"Flow without the ego, intellectualism without Ivory Tower disdain, and, finally, history with heart and passion and fire: Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop manages to go from wide-lens overview to pinpoint accuracy in covering the biggest cultural-political movement of our time. A true accomplishment." --Farai Chideya, author of Trust and The Color of Our Future "Jeff Chang is a master alchemist, spinning narrative gold from a weave of sociology, history, political theory, and old fashioned boom-bap. . .Can't Stop Won't Stop is one of the best books yet written on the shifting, tumultuous history of hip-hop culture and the generation of adherents it spat onto the American and global landscape. It is a tour-de-force." --Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, author of Gunshots In My Cook-Up: Bits of Hip-Hop Caribbean Life "An exuberant and revelatory history of the inner-city cultural revolution that still rocks the world. Jeff Chang is hip-hop's John Reed." --Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums "One of our most insightful commentators on urban music takes a panoramic survey of hip-hop's entirety. . .Authoritative, incisive, and entertaining, Can't Stop Won't Stop is a massive achievement." --Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 and Generation Ecstasy "Don't be misled; this is not just another rap book. . .inflammatory, illuminating, and anything but myopic, the scope of Chang's work is awe-inspiring." --DJ Shadow, hip-hop artist, Endtroducing and The Private Press "This book belongs on your shelf next to Criminal Minded, Illmatic and All Eyez On Me." --William Jelani Cobb, PhD, author of To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic "Orale pues-Can't Stop Won't Stop draws from the fire, verve, rage, injustices, pains, victories, and creativity of a whole generation of marginalized, forgotten, pissed-on and pissed-off youth." --Luis J. Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA and Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times "Jeff Chang backspins the un-interrogated truisms that plague so much hip hop scholarship. . .Can't Stop Won't Stop is a fluid, incisive analysis built from the ground up, with plenty of funky breakdowns." --Adam Mansbach, author of Angry White Boy and Shackling Water "Has any scholar ever loved hip hop so well--and taken it as seriously--as Jeff Chang does in Can't Stop Won't Stop?" --Bill Adler, author of Tougher Than Leather "From the intellectual roots of Black cultural and political movements to the emergence of hip-hop activism, Can't Stop Won't Stop is the most comprehensive book out on hip-hop." --Henry Chalfant, co-producer Style Wars, co-author of Subway Art and Spraycan Art "Can't Stop Won't Stop brings us so much closer to fully understanding the complexities that inspired the Hip-Hop Generation." --Mark Anthony Neal, author of Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation "Jeff Chang has created a new rhythm in hip-hop writing. A must-read and an instant classic." --B+ (Brian Cross), photographer, producer/director of Keepintime, and author of It's Not About A Salary

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