Dr. Dre. Snoop Dogg. Ice Cube. Some of the biggest stars in hip hop made their careers in Los Angeles. And today there is a new generation of young, mostly black, men busting out rhymes and hoping to one day find themselves “blowin’ up”—getting signed to a record label and becoming famous. Many of these aspiring rappers get their start in Leimart Park, home to the legendary hip hop open-mic workshop Project Blowed. In Blowin’ Up, Jooyoung Lee takes us deep inside Project Blowed and the surrounding music industry, offering an unparalleled look at hip hop in the making.
While most books on rap are written from the perspective of listeners and the market, Blowin’ Up looks specifically at the creative side of rappers. As Lee shows, learning how to rap involves a great deal of discipline, and it takes practice to acquire the necessary skills to put on a good show. Along with Lee—who is himself a pop-locker—we watch as the rappers at Project Blowed learn the basics, from how to hold a microphone to how to control their breath amid all those words. And we meet rappers like E. Crimsin, Nocando, VerBS, and Flawliss as they freestyle and battle with each other. For the men at Project Blowed, hip hop offers a creative alternative to the gang lifestyle, substituting verbal competition for physical violence, and provides an outlet for setting goals and working toward them.
Engagingly descriptive and chock-full of entertaining personalities and real-life vignettes, Blowin’ Up not only delivers a behind-the-scenes view of the underground world of hip hop, but also makes a strong case for supporting the creative aspirations of young, urban, black men, who are often growing up in the shadow of gang violence and dead-end jobs.
In Breaks in the Air John Klaess tells the story of rap’s emergence on New York City’s airwaves by examining how artists and broadcasters adapted hip hop’s performance culture to radio. Initially, artists and DJs brought their live practice to radio by buying time on low-bandwidth community stations and building new communities around their shows. Later, stations owned by New York’s African American elite, such as WBLS, reluctantly began airing rap even as they pursued a sound rooted in respectability, urban sophistication, and polish. At the same time, large commercial stations like WRKS programmed rap once it became clear that the music attracted a demographic that was valuable to advertisers. Moving between intimate portraits of single radio shows and broader examinations of the legal, financial, cultural, and political forces that indelibly shaped the sound of rap radio, Klaess shows how early rap radio provides a lens through which to better understand the development of rap music as well as the intertwined histories of sounds, institutions, communities, and legal formations that converged in the post-Civil Rights era.
Musicians rapping in kriolu--a hybrid of Portuguese and West African languages spoken in Cape Verde--have recently emerged from Lisbon's periphery. They popularize the struggles with identity and belonging among young people in a Cape Verdean immigrant community that shares not only the kriolu language but its culture and history.
Drawing on fieldwork and archival research in Portugal and Cape Verde, Derek Pardue introduces Lisbon's kriolu rap scene and its role in challenging metropolitan Portuguese identities. Pardue demonstrates that Cape Verde, while relatively small within the Portuguese diaspora, offers valuable lessons about the politics of experience and social agency within a postcolonial context that remains poorly understood. As he argues, knowing more about both Cape Verdeans and the Portuguese invites clearer assessments of the relationship between the experience and policies of migration. That in turn allows us to better gauge citizenship as a balance of individual achievement and cultural ascription.
Deftly shifting from domestic to public spaces and from social media to ethnographic theory, Pardue describes an overlooked phenomenon transforming Portugal, one sure to have parallels in former colonial powers across twenty-first-century Europe.
The population of Mexican-origin peoples in the United States is a diverse one, as reflected by age, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Far from antiquated concepts of mestizaje, recent scholarship has shown that Mexican@/Chican@ culture is a mixture of indigenous, African, and Spanish and other European peoples and cultures. No one reflects this rich blend of cultures better than Chican@ rappers, whose lyrics and iconography can help to deepen our understanding of what it means to be Chican@ or Mexican@ today. While some identify as Mexican mestizos, others identify as indigenous people or base their identities on their class and racial/ethnic makeup. No less significant is the intimate level of contact between Chican@s and black Americans. Via a firm theoretical foundation, Pancho McFarland explores the language and ethos of Chican@/Mexican@ hip hop and sheds new light on three distinct identities reflected in the music: indigenous/Mexica, Mexican nationalist/immigrant, and street hopper. With particular attention to the intersection of black and Chicano cultures, the author places exciting recent developments in music forms within the context of progressive social change, social justice, identity, and a new transnational, polycultural America.
Powered by a driving beat, clever lyrics, and assertive attitudes, rap music and hip hop culture have engrossed American youth since the mid-1980s. Although the first rappers were African Americans, rap and hip hop culture quickly spread to other ethnic groups who have added their own cultural elements to the music. Chicano Rap offers the first in-depth look at how Chicano/a youth have adopted and adapted rap music and hip hop culture to express their views on gender and violence, as well as on how Chicano/a youth fit into a globalizing world.
Pancho McFarland examines over five hundred songs and seventy rap artists from all the major Chicano rap regions—San Diego, San Francisco and Northern California, Texas, and Chicago and the Midwest. He discusses the cultural, political, historical, and economic contexts in which Chicano rap has emerged and how these have shaped the violence and misogyny often expressed in Chicano rap and hip hop. In particular, he argues that the misogyny and violence of Chicano rap are direct outcomes of the "patriarchal dominance paradigm" that governs human relations in the United States. McFarland also explains how globalization, economic restructuring, and the conservative shift in national politics have affected Chicano/a youth and Chicano rap. He concludes with a look at how Xicana feminists, some Chicano rappers, and other cultural workers are striving to reach Chicano/a youth with a democratic, peaceful, empowering, and liberating message.
In The Cuban Hustle, Sujatha Fernandes explores the multitudinous ways artists, activists, and ordinary Cubans have hustled to survive and express themselves in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Whether circulating information on flash drives as a substitute for the internet or building homemade antennas to listen to Miami’s hip hop radio stations, Cubans improvise alternative strategies and workarounds to contend with ongoing isolation. Throughout these essays, Fernandes examines the emergence of dynamic youth cultures and social movements as Cuba grappled with economic collapse, new digital technologies, the normalization of diplomatic ties with the United States during the Obama administration, and the regression of US-Cuban relations in the Trump era. From reflections on feminism, new Cuban cinema, and public art to urban slums, the Afro-Cuban movement, and rumba and hip hop, Fernandes reveals Cuba to be a world of vibrant cultures grounded in an ethos of invention and everyday hustle.
Honorable Mention, Barbara T. Christian Literary Award, Caribbean Studies Association, 2017
In the wake of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, a key state ideology developed: racism was a systemic cultural issue that ceased to exist after the Revolution, and any racism that did persist was a result of contained cases of individual prejudice perpetuated by US influence. Even after the state officially pronounced the end of racism within its borders, social inequalities tied to racism, sexism, and homophobia endured, and, during the economic liberalization of the 1990s, widespread economic disparities began to reemerge.
Cuban Underground Hip Hop focuses on a group of self-described antiracist, revolutionary youth who initiated a social movement (1996–2006) to educate and fight against these inequalities through the use of arts-based political activism intended to spur debate and enact social change. Their “revolution” was manifest in altering individual and collective consciousness by critiquing nearly all aspects of social and economic life tied to colonial legacies. Using over a decade of research and interviews with those directly involved, Tanya L. Saunders traces the history of the movement from its inception and the national and international debates that it spawned to the exodus of these activists/artists from Cuba and the creative vacuum they left behind. Shedding light on identity politics, race, sexuality, and gender in Cuba and the Americas, Cuban Underground Hip Hop is a valuable case study of a social movement that is a part of Cuba’s longer historical process of decolonization.
DJ Screw, a.k.a. Robert Earl Davis Jr., changed rap and hip-hop forever. In the 1990s, in a spare room of his Houston home, he developed a revolutionary mixing technique known as chopped and screwed. Spinning two copies of a record, Screw would “chop” in new rhythms, bring in local rappers to freestyle over the tracks, and slow the recording down on tape. Soon Houstonians were lining up to buy his cassettes—he could sell thousands in a single day. Fans drove around town blasting his music, a sound that came to define the city’s burgeoning and innovative rap culture. June 27 has become an unofficial city holiday, inspired by a legendary mix Screw made on that date.
Lance Scott Walker has interviewed nearly everyone who knew Screw, from childhood friends to collaborators to aficionados who evangelized Screw’s tapes—millions of which made their way around the globe—as well as the New York rap moguls who honored him. Walker brings these voices together with captivating details of Screw’s craft and his world. More than the story of one man, DJ Screw is a history of the Houston scene as it came of age, full of vibrant moments and characters. But none can top Screw himself, a pioneer whose mystique has only grown in the two decades since his death.
Hip hop has long been a vehicle for protest in the United States, used by its primarily African American creators to address issues of prejudice, repression, and exclusion. But the music is now a worldwide phenomenon, and outside the United States it has been taken up by those facing similar struggles. Flip the Script offers a close look at the role of hip hop in Europe, where it has become a politically powerful and commercially successful form of expression for the children and grandchildren of immigrants from former colonies.
Through analysis of recorded music and other media, as well as interviews and fieldwork with hip hop communities, J. Griffith Rollefson shows how this music created by black Americans is deployed by Senegalese Parisians, Turkish Berliners, and South Asian Londoners to both differentiate themselves from and relate themselves to the dominant culture. By listening closely to the ways these postcolonial citizens in Europe express their solidarity with African Americans through music, Rollefson shows, we can literally hear the hybrid realities of a global double consciousness.
Since launching his career at the Village Voice in the early 1980s Greg Tate has been one of the premiere critical voices on contemporary Black music, art, literature, film, and politics. Flyboy 2 provides a panoramic view of the past thirty years of Tate's influential work. Whether interviewing Miles Davis or Ice Cube, reviewing an Azealia Banks mixtape or Suzan-Lori Parks's Topdog/Underdog, discussing visual artist Kara Walker or writer Clarence Major, or analyzing the ties between Afro-futurism, Black feminism, and social movements, Tate's resounding critical insights illustrate how race, gender, and class become manifest in American popular culture. Above all, Tate demonstrates through his signature mix of vernacular poetics and cultural theory and criticism why visionary Black artists, intellectuals, aesthetics, philosophies, and politics matter to twenty-first-century America.
For the Culture: Hip-Hop and the Fight for Social Justice documents and analyzes the ways in which Hip-Hop music, artists, scholars, and activists have discussed, promoted, and supported social justice challenges worldwide. Drawing from diverse approaches and methods, the contributors in this volume demonstrate that rap music can positively influence political behavior and fight to change social injustices, and then zoom in on artists whose work has accomplished these ends. The volume explores topics including education and pedagogy; the Black Lives Matter movement; the politics of crime, punishment, and mass incarceration; electoral politics; gender and sexuality; and the global struggle for social justice. Ultimately, the book argues that Hip-Hop is much more than a musical genre or cultural form: Hip-Hop is a resistance mechanism.
A New York Times Best Seller
2019 National Book Award Longlist, Nonfiction
2019 Kirkus Book Prize Finalist, Nonfiction
A February IndieNext Pick Named A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Buzzfeed, Nylon, The A. V. Club, CBC Books, and The Rumpus, and a Winter's Most Anticipated Book by Vanity Fair and The Week Starred Reviews: Kirkus and Booklist "Warm, immediate and intensely personal."—New York Times
How does one pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest? The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Seventeen years after their last album, they resurrected themselves with an intense, socially conscious record, We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service, which arrived when fans needed it most, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group’s history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.
Abdurraqib traces the Tribe's creative career, from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the Native Tongues, through their first three classic albums, to their eventual breakup and long hiatus. Their work is placed in the context of the broader rap landscape of the 1990s, one upended by sampling laws that forced a reinvention in production methods, the East Coast–West Coast rivalry that threatened to destroy the genre, and some record labels’ shift from focusing on groups to individual MCs. Throughout the narrative Abdurraqib connects the music and cultural history to their street-level impact. Whether he’s remembering The Source magazine cover announcing the Tribe’s 1998 breakup or writing personal letters to the group after bandmate Phife Dawg’s death, Abdurraqib seeks the deeper truths of A Tribe Called Quest; truths that—like the low end, the bass—are not simply heard in the head, but felt in the chest.
Hip Hop Desis explores the aesthetics and politics of South Asian American (desi) hip hop artists. Nitasha Tamar Sharma argues that through their lives and lyrics, young “hip hop desis” express a global race consciousness that reflects both their sense of connection with Blacks as racialized minorities in the United States and their diasporic sensibility as part of a global community of South Asians. She emphasizes the role of appropriation and sampling in the ways that hip hop desis craft their identities, create art, and pursue social activism. Some desi artists produce what she calls “ethnic hip hop,” incorporating South Asian languages, instruments, and immigrant themes. Through ethnic hip hop, artists, including KB, Sammy, and Deejay Bella, express “alternative desiness,” challenging assumptions about their identities as South Asians, children of immigrants, minorities, and Americans. Hip hop desis also contest and seek to bridge perceived divisions between Blacks and South Asian Americans. By taking up themes considered irrelevant to many Asian Americans, desi performers, such as D’Lo, Chee Malabar of Himalayan Project, and Rawj of Feenom Circle, create a multiracial form of Black popular culture to fight racism and enact social change.
Hip Hop Underground is a vivid ethnography of the author's observations and experiences in the multiracial world of the San Francisco underground hip hop scene. While Anthony Kwame Harrison interviewed area hip hop artists for this entertaining and informative book, he also performed as the emcee "Mad Squirrel." His immersion in the subculture provides him with unique insights into this dynamic and racially diverse but close-knit community.
Hip Hop Underground examines the changing nature of race among young Americans, and examines the issues of ethnic and racial identification, interaction, and understanding. Critiquing the notion that the Bay Area underground music scene is genuinely "colorblind," Harrison focuses on the issue of race to show how various ethnic groups engage hip hop in remarkably divergent ways—as a means to both claim subcultural legitimacy and establish their racial authenticity.
Throughout Africa, artists use hip-hop both to describe their lives and to create shared spaces for uncensored social commentary, feminist challenges to patriarchy, and resistance against state institutions, while at the same time engaging with the global hip-hop community. In Hip-Hop in Africa, Msia Kibona Clark examines some of Africa’s biggest hip-hop scenes and shows how hip-hop helps us understand specifically African narratives of social, political, and economic realities.
Clark looks at the use of hip-hop in protest, both as a means of articulating social problems and as a tool for mobilizing listeners around those problems. She also details the spread of hip-hop culture in Africa following its emergence in the United States, assessing the impact of urbanization and demographics on the spread of hip-hop culture.
Hip-Hop in Africa is a tribute to a genre and its artists as well as a timely examination that pushes the study of music and diaspora in critical new directions. Accessibly written by one of the foremost experts on African hip-hop, this book will easily find its place in the classroom.
In this lively ethnography Ian Condry interprets Japan’s vibrant hip-hop scene, explaining how a music and culture that originated halfway around the world is appropriated and remade in Tokyo clubs and recording studios. Illuminating different aspects of Japanese hip-hop, Condry chronicles how self-described “yellow B-Boys” express their devotion to “black culture,” how they combine the figure of the samurai with American rapping techniques and gangsta imagery, and how underground artists compete with pop icons to define “real” Japanese hip-hop. He discusses how rappers manipulate the Japanese language to achieve rhyme and rhythmic flow and how Japan’s female rappers struggle to find a place in a male-dominated genre. Condry pays particular attention to the messages of emcees, considering how their raps take on subjects including Japan’s education system, its sex industry, teenage bullying victims turned schoolyard murderers, and even America’s handling of the war on terror.
Condry attended more than 120 hip-hop performances in clubs in and around Tokyo, sat in on dozens of studio recording sessions, and interviewed rappers, music company executives, music store owners, and journalists. Situating the voices of Japanese artists in the specific nightclubs where hip-hop is performed—what musicians and fans call the genba (actual site) of the scene—he draws attention to the collaborative, improvisatory character of cultural globalization. He contends that it was the pull of grassroots connections and individual performers rather than the push of big media corporations that initially energized and popularized hip-hop in Japan. Zeebra, DJ Krush, Crazy-A, Rhymester, and a host of other artists created Japanese rap, one performance at a time.
The neighborhoods of Fifth Ward, Fourth Ward, Third Ward, and the Southside of Houston, Texas, gave birth to Houston rap, a vibrant music scene that has produced globally recognized artists such as Geto Boys, DJ Screw, Pimp C and Bun B of UGK, Fat Pat, Big Moe, Z-Ro, Lil’ Troy, and Paul Wall. Lance Scott Walker and photographer Peter Beste spent a decade documenting Houston’s scene, interviewing and photographing the people—rappers, DJs, producers, promoters, record label owners—and places that give rap music from the Bayou City its distinctive character. Their collaboration produced the books Houston Rap and Houston Rap Tapes.
This second edition of Houston Rap Tapes amplifies the city’s hip-hop history through new interviews with Scarface, Slim Thug, Lez Moné, B L A C K I E, Lil’ Keke, and Sire Jukebox of the original Ghetto Boys. Walker groups the interviews into sections that track the different eras and movements in Houston rap, with new photographs and album art that reveal the evolution of the scene from the 1970s to today’s hip-hop generation. The interviews range from the specifics of making music to the passions, regrets, memories, and hopes that give it life. While offering a view from some of Houston’s most marginalized areas, these intimate conversations lay out universal struggles and feelings. As Willie D of Geto Boys writes in the foreword, “Houston Rap Tapes flows more like a bunch of fellows who haven’t seen each other for ages, hanging out on the block reminiscing, rather than a calculated literary guide to Houston’s history.”
“i used to love to dream” is a mixtap/e/ssay that performs hip-hop scholarship using sampled and live instrumentation; repurposed music, film, and news clips; and original rap lyrics. As a genre, the mixtap/e/ssay brings together the mixtape—a self-produced or independently released album issued free of charge to gain publicity—and the personal and scholarly essays. “i used to love to dream” names Decatur, Illinois—the author's hometown—as a reference point for place- and time-specific rapped ruminations about the ideas of growing up, moving away, and pondering one's life choices. At the same time, the tracks attempt to account for moral, philosophical, and ethical dimensions undergirding unease about authenticity, or staying true to oneself and to one’s city or neighborhood, as well as the external factors that contribute to such feelings. Using the local to ask questions about the global, “i used to love to dream” highlights outlooks on Black life generally, and Black manhood in particular, in the United States.
The tracks are presented along with liner notes and a short documentary about the making of the mixtap/e/ssay, and accompanying articles to provide context for the tracks for listeners both in classrooms and outside of them.
Singer. Dancer. Movie star. Activist. Queer icon. Afrofuturist. Working class heroine. Time traveler. Prophet. Feminist. Android. Dirty Computer.
Janelle Monáe is all these things and more, making her one of the most fascinating artists to emerge in the twenty-first century. This provocative new study explores how Monáe’s work has connected different media platforms to strengthen and enhance new movements in art, theory, and politics. It considers not only Monáe’s groundbreaking albums The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, and Dirty Computer, but also Monáe’s work as an actress in such films as Hidden Figures and Antebellum, as well as her soundtrack appearances in socially-engaged projects ranging from I May Destroy You to Us. Examining Monáe as a cultural icon whose work is profoundly intersectional, this book maps how she is actively reshaping discourses around race, gender, sexuality, and capitalism. Tracing Monáe’s performances of joy, desire, pain, and hope across a wide range of media forms, it shows how she imagines Afrofuturist, posthumanist, and postcapitalist utopias, while remaining grounded in the realities of being a Black woman in a white-dominated industry. This is an exciting introduction to an audacious innovator whose work offers us fresh ways to talk about identity, desire, and power.
Winner of the 2019 Lilla A. Heston Award
Co-winner of the 2018 Ethnography Division’s Best Book from the NCA
In recent decades, poetry slams and the spoken word artists who compete in them have sparked a resurgent fascination with the world of poetry. However, there is little critical dialogue that fully engages with the cultural complexities present in slam and spoken word poetry communities, as well as their ramifications.
In Killing Poetry, renowned slam poet, Javon Johnson unpacks some of the complicated issues that comprise performance poetry spaces. He argues that the truly radical potential in slam and spoken word communities lies not just in proving literary worth, speaking back to power, or even in altering power structures, but instead in imagining and working towards altogether different social relationships. His illuminating ethnography provides a critical history of the slam, contextualizes contemporary black poets in larger black literary traditions, and does away with the notion that poetry slams are inherently radically democratic and utopic.
Killing Poetry—at times autobiographical, poetic, and journalistic—analyzes the masculine posturing in the Southern California community in particular, the sexual assault in the national community, and the ways in which related social media inadvertently replicate many of the same white supremacist, patriarchal, and mainstream logics so many spoken word poets seem to be working against. Throughout, Johnson examines the promises and problems within slam and spoken word, while illustrating how community is made and remade in hopes of eventually creating the radical spaces so many of these poets strive to achieve.
From its earliest days, hip hop was more than just music, encapsulating the ideas of community and exchange. Artists like Mellow Man Ace and Kid Frost opened doors by infusing Spanish into their lyrics, calling for racial and social equality; others employed hip hop to comment on the effects of neo-liberalization and global capital. In recent decades, the cultural exchange has expanded—the music traveling from the United States to Latin America and back as visual artists, music producers, MCs, vocalists, and dancers combine their Latin cultures with influences from north of the U.S. border to create new artistic experiences. And while there is an extensive body of work on U.S. hip hop, it continues to evolve in an increasingly multilingual, multiethnic, intergenerational, and global collection of cultural expressions.
A truly international effort, La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades brings together exciting new work about Latino/a hip hop across more than a dozen countries, from scholars and practitioners in the United States and in Latin America, highlighting in new ways the participation of women, indigenous peoples, and Afro-descendants in a reimagined global, hip hop nation. From graffitera crews in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to Mexican hip hop in New York, from Aymara rap in Bolivia to Chicano rap in Taiwan, this volume explodes stereotypes of who and how hip hop is consumed, lived, and performed. Examining hip hop movements in Spanish, English, Portuguese, Aymara, and Creole, La Verdad demonstrates that Latino hip hop is a multilingual expression of gender, indigeneity, activism, and social justice.
Filipino Americans have been innovators and collaborators in hip hop since the culture’s early days. But despite the success of artists like Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas and superstar producer Chad Hugo, the genre’s significance in Filipino American communities is often overlooked. Mark R. Villegas considers sprawling coast-to-coast hip hop networks to reveal how Filipino Americans have used music, dance, and visual art to create their worlds. Filipino Americans have been exploring their racial position in the world in embracing hip hop’s connections to memories of colonial and racial violence. Villegas scrutinizes practitioners’ language of defiance, placing the cultural grammar of hip hop within a larger legacy of decolonization.
An important investigation of hip hop as a movement of racial consciousness, Manifest Technique shows how the genre has inspired Filipino Americans to envision and enact new ideas of their bodies, their history, and their dignity.
Honorable Mention, 2019 Foreword INDIES Awards - Performing Arts & Music Honorable Mention, Graphis 2021 Design Annual Competition
Popular music has long been a powerful force for social change. Protest songs have served as anthems regarding war, racism, sexism, ecological destruction and so many other crucial issues.
Music Is Power takes us on a guided tour through the past 100 years of politically-conscious music, from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to Green Day and NWA. Covering a wide variety of genres, including reggae, country, metal, psychedelia, rap, punk, folk and soul, Brad Schreiber demonstrates how musicians can take a variety of approaches— angry rallying cries, mournful elegies to the victims of injustice, or even humorous mockeries of authority—to fight for a fairer world. While shining a spotlight on Phil Ochs, Gil Scott-Heron, The Dead Kennedys and other seminal, politicized artists, he also gives readers a new appreciation of classic acts such as Lesley Gore, James Brown, and Black Sabbath, who overcame limitations in their industry to create politically potent music
Music Is Power tells fascinating stories about the origins and the impact of dozens of world-changing songs, while revealing political context and the personal challenges of legendary artists from Bob Dylan to Bob Marley.
In Negro Soy Yo Marc D. Perry explores Cuba’s hip hop movement as a window into the racial complexities of the island’s ongoing transition from revolutionary socialism toward free-market capitalism. Centering on the music and lives of black-identified raperos (rappers), Perry examines the ways these young artists craft notions of black Cuban identity and racial citizenship, along with calls for racial justice, at the fraught confluence of growing Afro-Cuban marginalization and long held perceptions of Cuba as a non-racial nation. Situating hip hop within a long history of Cuban racial politics, Perry discusses the artistic and cultural exchanges between raperos and North American rappers and activists, and their relationships with older Afro-Cuban intellectuals and African American political exiles. He also examines critiques of Cuban patriarchy by female raperos, the competing rise of reggaetón, as well as state efforts to incorporate hip hop into its cultural institutions. At this pivotal moment of Cuban-U.S. relations, Perry's analysis illuminates the evolving dynamics of race, agency, and neoliberal transformation amid a Cuba in historic flux.
"Richard Schur offers a provocative view of contemporary African American cultural politics and the relationship between African American cultural production and intellectual property law."
---Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University
"Whites used to own blacks. Now, they accomplish much the same thing by insisting that they 'own' ownership. Blacks shouldn't let them. A culture that makes all artists play by its rules will end up controlling new ideas and stifling change. Richard Schur's fine book explains why."
---Richard Delgado, Seattle University
What is the relationship between hip-hop and African American culture in the post--Civil Rights era? Does hip-hop share a criticism of American culture or stand as an isolated and unique phenomenon? How have African American texts responded to the increasing role intellectual property law plays in regulating images, sounds, words, and logos? Parodies of Ownership examines how contemporary African American writers, artists, and musicians have developed an artistic form that Schur terms "hip-hop aesthetics." This book offers an in-depth examination of a wide range of contemporary African American painters and writers, including Anna Deavere Smith, Toni Morrison, Adrian Piper, Colson Whitehead, Michael Ray Charles, Alice Randall, and Fred Wilson. Their absence from conversations about African American culture has caused a misunderstanding about the nature of contemporary cultural issues and resulted in neglect of their innovative responses to the post--Civil Rights era. By considering their work as a cross-disciplinary and specifically African American cultural movement, Schur shows how a new paradigm for artistic creation has developed.
Parodies of Ownership offers a broad analysis of post--Civil Rights era culture and provides the necessary context for understanding contemporary debates within American studies, African American studies, intellectual property law, African American literature, art history, and hip-hop studies. Weaving together law, literature, art, and music, Schur deftly clarifies the conceptual issues that unify contemporary African American culture, empowering this generation of artists, writers, and musicians to criticize how racism continues to affect our country.
Richard L. Schur is Director, Interdisciplinary Studies Center, and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Drury University. Visit the author's website: http://www2.drury.edu/rschur/index.htm.
At once the most lucrative, popular, and culturally oppositional musical force in the United States, hip hop demands the kind of interpretation Imani Perry provides here: criticism engaged with this vibrant musical form on its own terms. A scholar and a fan, Perry considers the art, politics, and culture of hip hop through an analysis of song lyrics, the words of the prophets of the hood. Recognizing prevailing characterizations of hip hop as a transnational musical form, Perry advances a powerful argument that hip hop is first and foremost black American music. At the same time, she contends that many studies have shortchanged the aesthetic value of rap by attributing its form and content primarily to socioeconomic factors. Her innovative analysis revels in the artistry of hip hop, revealing it as an art of innovation, not deprivation.
Perry offers detailed readings of the lyrics of many hip hop artists, including Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul, krs-One, OutKast, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Tupac Shakur, Lil’ Kim, Biggie Smalls, Nas, Method Man, and Lauryn Hill. She focuses on the cultural foundations of the music and on the form and narrative features of the songs—the call and response, the reliance on the break, the use of metaphor, and the recurring figures of the trickster and the outlaw. Perry also provides complex considerations of hip hop’s association with crime, violence, and misogyny. She shows that while its message may be disconcerting, rap often expresses brilliant insights about existence in a society mired in difficult racial and gender politics. Hip hop, she suggests, airs a much wider, more troubling range of black experience than was projected during the civil rights era. It provides a unique public space where the sacred and the profane impulses within African American culture unite.
Notions of hip hop authenticity, as expressed both within hip hop communities and in the larger American culture, rely on the construction of the rapper as a Black, masculine, heterosexual, cisgender man who enacts a narrative of struggle and success. In Queer Voices in Hip Hop, Lauron J. Kehrer turns our attention to openly queer and trans rappers and positions them within a longer Black queer musical lineage. Combining musical, textual, and visual analysis with reception history, this book reclaims queer involvement in hip hop by tracing the genre’s beginnings within Black and Latinx queer music-making practices and spaces, demonstrating that queer and trans rappers draw on Ballroom and other cultural expressions particular to queer and trans communities of color in their work in order to articulate their subject positions. By centering the performances of openly queer and trans artists of color, Queer Voices in Hip Hop reclaims their work as essential to the development and persistence of hip hop in the United States as it tells the story of hip hop’s queer roots.
In this first musicological history of rap music, Cheryl L. Keyes traces the genre's history from its roots in West African bardic traditions, the Jamaican dancehall tradition, and African American vernacular expressions to its permeation of the cultural mainstream as a major tenet of hip-hop lifestyle and culture.
Rap music, according to Keyes, addresses the political and economic disfranchisement of black youths and other groups, fosters ethnic pride, and displays culture values and aesthetics. Blending popular culture with folklore and ethnomusicology, Keyes offers a nuanced portrait of the artists, themes, and varying styles reflective of urban life and street consciousness. Her analysis draws on music, lives, politics, and interests of figures ranging from Afrika Bambaataa, the "godfather of hip-hop," to early artists like Grandmaster Flash, to crossover pioneers like LL Cool J, De La Soul, and Public Enemy, to megastars like Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. At the same time, Keyes delves into the impact of the rapper-turned mogul phenomenon, the rise of Death Row Records, and the East Coast-West Coast tensions of the Nineties.
Project Blowed is a legendary hiphop workshop based in Los Angeles. It began in 1994 when a group of youths moved their already renowned open-mic nights from the Good Life, a Crenshaw district health food store, to the KAOS Network, an arts center in Leimert Park. The local freestyle of articulate, rapid-fire, extemporaneous delivery, the juxtaposition of meaningful words and sounds, and the way that MCs followed one another without missing a beat, quickly became known throughout the LA underground. Leimert Park has long been a center of African American culture and arts in Los Angeles, and Project Blowed inspired youth throughout the city to consider the neighborhood the epicenter of their own cultural movement. The Real Hiphop is an in-depth account of the language and culture of Project Blowed, based on the seven years Marcyliena Morgan spent observing the workshop and the KAOS Network. Morgan is a leading scholar of hiphop, and throughout the volume her ethnographic analysis of the LA underground opens up into a broader examination of the artistic and cultural value of hiphop.
Morgan intersperses her observations with excerpts from interviews and transcripts of freestyle lyrics. Providing a thorough linguistic interpretation of the music, she teases out the cultural antecedents and ideologies embedded in the language, emphases, and wordplay. She discusses the artistic skills and cultural knowledge MCs must acquire to rock the mic, the socialization of hiphop culture’s core and long-term members, and the persistent focus on skills, competition, and evaluation. She brings attention to adults who provided material and moral support to sustain underground hiphop, identifies the ways that women choose to participate in Project Blowed, and vividly renders the dynamics of the workshop’s famous lyrical battles.
Mary J. Blige is an icon who represents the political consciousness of hip hop and the historical promise of soul. She is an everywoman, celebrated by Oprah Winfrey and beloved by pop music fans of all ages and races. Blige has sold over fifty million albums, won numerous Grammys, and even played at multiple White House events, as well as the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Displaying astonishing range and versatility, she has recorded everything from Broadway standards to Led Zeppelin anthems and worked with some of popular music’s greatest artists—Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Sting, U2, and Beyoncé, among them.
Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige tells the story of one of the most important artists in pop music history. Danny Alexander follows the whole arc of Blige’s career, from her first album, which heralded the birth of “hip hop soul,” to her critically praised 2014 album, The London Sessions. He highlights the fact that Blige was part of the historically unprecedented movement of black women onto pop radio and explores how she and other women took control of their careers and used their music to give voice to women’s (and men’s) everyday struggles and dreams. This book adds immensely to the story of both black women artists and artists rooted in hip hop and pays tribute to a musician who, by expanding her reach and asking tough questions about how music can and should evolve, has proven herself an artistic visionary.
Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, and Deborah Pacini Hernandez, eds. Duke University Press, 2009 Library of Congress ML3532.5.R44 2009 | Dewey Decimal 781.64
A hybrid of reggae and rap, reggaeton is a music with Spanish-language lyrics and Caribbean aesthetics that has taken Latin America, the United States, and the world by storm. Superstars—including Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Ivy Queen—garner international attention, while aspiring performers use digital technologies to create and circulate their own tracks. Reggaeton brings together critical assessments of this wildly popular genre. Journalists, scholars, and artists delve into reggaeton’s local roots and its transnational dissemination; they parse the genre’s aesthetics, particularly in relation to those of hip-hop; and they explore the debates about race, nation, gender, and sexuality generated by the music and its associated cultural practices, from dance to fashion.
The collection opens with an in-depth exploration of the social and sonic currents that coalesced into reggaeton in Puerto Rico during the 1990s. Contributors consider reggaeton in relation to that island, Panama, Jamaica, and New York; Cuban society, Miami’s hip-hop scene, and Dominican identity; and other genres including reggae en español, underground, and dancehall reggae. The reggaeton artist Tego Calderón provides a powerful indictment of racism in Latin America, while the hip-hop artist Welmo Romero Joseph discusses the development of reggaeton in Puerto Rico and his refusal to embrace the upstart genre. The collection features interviews with the DJ/rapper El General and the reggae performer Renato, as well as a translation of “Chamaco’s Corner,” the poem that served as the introduction to Daddy Yankee’s debut album. Among the volume’s striking images are photographs from Miguel Luciano’s series Pure Plantainum, a meditation on identity politics in the bling-bling era, and photos taken by the reggaeton videographer Kacho López during the making of the documentary Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds, and Hip-Hop.
Contributors. Geoff Baker, Tego Calderón, Carolina Caycedo, Jose Davila, Jan Fairley, Juan Flores, Gallego (José Raúl González), Félix Jiménez, Kacho López, Miguel Luciano, Wayne Marshall, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Alfredo Nieves Moreno, Ifeoma C. K. Nwankwo, Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Raquel Z. Rivera, Welmo Romero Joseph, Christoph Twickel, Alexandra T. Vazquez
A close look at how Taiwanese musicians are using rap music as a creative way to explore and reconcile Taiwanese identity and history.
Like many states emerging from oppressive political rule, Taiwan saw a cultural explosion in the late 1980s, when nearly four decades of martial law under the Chinese Nationalist Party ended. As members of a multicultural, multilingual society with a complex history of migration and colonization, Taiwanese people entered this moment of political transformation eager to tell their stories and grapple with their identities. In Renegade Rhymes, ethnomusicologist Meredith Schweig shows how rap music has become a powerful tool in the post-authoritarian period for both exploring and producing new knowledge about the ethnic, cultural, and political history of Taiwan.
Schweig draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, taking readers to concert venues, music video sets, scenes of protest, and more to show how early MCs from marginalized ethnic groups infused rap with important aspects of their own local languages, music, and narrative traditions. Aiming their critiques at the educational system and a neoliberal economy, new generations of rappers have used the art form to nurture associational bonds and rehearse rituals of democratic citizenship, making a new kind of sense out of their complicated present.
Despite its global popularity, rap has received little scholarly attention in terms of its poetic features. Rhymes in the Flow systematically analyzes the poetics (rap beats, rhythms, rhymes, verse and song structures) of many notable rap songs to provide new insights on rap artistry and performance. Defining and describing the features of what rappers commonly call flow, the authors establish a theory of the rap line as they trace rap’s deepest roots and stylistic evolution—from Anglo-Saxon poetry to Lil Wayne—and contextualize its complex poetics. Rhymes in the Flow helps explain rap’s wide appeal by focusing primarily on its rhythmic and thematic power, while also claiming its historical, cultural, musical, and poetic importance.
Rhymin’ and Stealin’ begins with a crucial premise: the fundamental element of hip-hop culture and aesthetics is the overt use of preexisting material to new ends. Whether it is taking an old dance move for a breakdancing battle, using spray paint to create street art, quoting from a famous speech, or sampling a rapper or 1970s funk song, hip-hop aesthetics involve borrowing from the past. By appropriating and reappropriating these elements, they become transformed into something new, something different, something hip-hop. Rhymin’ and Stealin’ is the first book-length study of musical borrowing in hip-hop music, which not only includes digital sampling but also demonstrates a wider web of references and quotations within the hip-hop world. Examples from Nas, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Eminem, and many others show that the transformation of preexisting material is the fundamental element of hip-hop aesthetics. Although all music genres use and adapt preexisting material in different ways, hip-hop music celebrates and flaunts its “open source” culture through highly varied means. It is this interest in the web of references, borrowed material, and digitally sampled sounds that forms the basis of this book—sampling and other types of borrowing becomes a framework with which to analyze hip-hop music and wider cultural trends.
Say Word!: Voices from Hip Hop Theater
An Anthology Edited and with an Introduction by Daniel Banks University of Michigan Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS628.N4S29 2011 | Dewey Decimal 812.6080896073
The phenomenon known as Hip Hop encompasses a global, multiethnic, grassroots culture committed to social justice and self-expression through performance. Hip Hop Theater emerged from that culture, mixing spoken-word performance with music and dance and marked by Hip Hop's strong sense of activism and resistance. Hip Hop Theater is engaged with questions of identity – culture, heritage, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and difference—narrating the experiences of historically marginalized peoples and putting them in dialogue with other oppressed communities.
Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater collects eight works by contemporary artists who confront today's compelling issues, ranging from racial profiling and police brutality to women's empowerment and from the commercial exploitation of Hip Hop to identity politics. Editor Daniel Banks has assembled work by Abiola Abrams, Zakiyyah Alexander, Chadwick Boseman, Kristoffer Diaz, Rha Goddess, Antoy Grant, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Rickerby Hinds, and Ben Snyder, augmented with an extensive introduction and other informative commentary. The book also includes a roundtable moderated by Holly Bass and featuring Hip Hop pioneers Eisa Davis, Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones, and Will Power, a conversation that traces the roots of Hip Hop Theater and imagines its future directions.
Taking up where he left off with Kinds of Blue (The Ohio State University Press, 2004), Jürgen E. Grandt seeks to explore in depth some of the implications of the modernist jazz aesthetic resonating in the African American literary tradition. Grandt’s new book, Shaping Words to Fit the Soul:The Southern Ritual Grounds of Afro-Modernism, probes the ways in which modernism’s key themes of fragmentation, alienation, and epistemology complicate the mapping of the American South as an “authenticating” locus of African American narrative. Rather than being a site of authentication, the South constitutes a symbolic territory that actually resists the very narrative strategies deployed to capture it.
The figurative ritual grounds traversed in texts by Frederick Douglass, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, and Tayari Jones reveal Afro-modernism as modernism with a historical conscience. Since literary Afro-modernism recurrently points to music as a symbolic territory of liberatory potential, this study also visits a variety of soundscapes, from the sorrow songs of the slaves to the hip-hop of the Dirty South, and from the blues of W. C. Handy to the southern rock of the Allman Brothers Band.
Afro-modernism as modernism with a historical conscience thus suggests a reconfiguration of southern ritual grounds as situated in time and mind rather than time and place, and the ramifications of this process extend far above and beyond the Mason-Dixon Line.
Rap’s critique of police brutality in the 1980s. The Hip Hop Political Convention. The rise (and fall) of Kwame Kilpatrick, the “hip-hop mayor” of Detroit. Barack Obama echoing the body language of Jay-Z on the campaign trail.
A growing number of black activists and artists claim that rap and hip-hop are the basis of an influential new urban social movement. Simultaneously, black citizens evince concern with the effect that rap and hip-hop culture exerts on African American communities. According to a recent Pew survey conducted on the opinions of Black Americans, 71 percent of blacks think that rap is a bad influence. To what extent are African American hopes and fears about hip-hop’s potential political power justified? In Stare in the Darkness, Lester K. Spence answers this question using a blend of neoliberal analysis, survey data, experiments, and case studies.
Spence finds that rap does in fact influence black political attitudes. However, rap also reproduces rather than critiques neoliberal ideology. Furthermore, black activists seeking to create an innovative model of hip-hop politics are hamstrung by their reliance on outmoded forms of organizing. By considering the possibilities inherent in the most prolific and prominent activities of hip-hop politics, Stare in the Darkness reveals, in a clear and practical manner, the political consequences of rap culture for black publics.
To some, Christianity and hip hop seem antithetical. Not so in Kenya. There, the music of Julius Owino, aka Juliani, blends faith and beats into a potent hip hop gospel aimed at a youth culture hungry for answers spiritual, material, and otherwise.
Mwenda Ntarangwi explores the Kenyan hip hop scene through the lens of Juliani's life and career. A born-again Christian, Juliani produces work highlighting the tensions between hip hop's forceful self-expression and a pious approach to public life, even while contesting the basic presumptions of both. In The Street Is My Pulpit, Ntarangwi forges an uncommon collaboration with his subject that offers insights into Juliani's art and goals even as Ntarangwi explores his own religious experience and subjective identity as an ethnographer. What emerges is an original contribution to the scholarship on hip hop's global impact and a passionate study of the music's role in shaping new ways of being Christian in Africa.
This book explores an important aspect of hip-hop that is rarely considered: its deep entanglement with spiritual life.
The world of hip-hop is saturated with religion, but rarely is that element given serious consideration. In Street Scriptures, Alejandro Nava focuses our attention on this aspect of the music and culture in a fresh way, combining his profound love of hip-hop, his passion for racial and social justice, and his deep theological knowledge. Street Scriptures offers a refreshingly earnest and beautifully written journey through hip-hop’s deep entanglement with the sacred.
Nava reveals a largely unheard religious heartbeat in hip-hop, exploring crosscurrents of the sacred and profane in rap, reggaeton, and Latinx hip-hop today. Ranging from Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Lauryn Hill, Cardi B, and Bad Bunny to St. Augustine and William James, Nava examines the ethical-political, mystical-prophetic, and theological qualities in hip-hop, probing the pure sonic and aesthetic signatures of music, while also diving deep into the voices that invoke the spirit of protest. The result is nothing short of a new liberation theology for our time, what Nava calls a “street theology.”
Hip-hop has come a long way from its origins in the Bronx in the 1970s, when rapping and DJing were just part of a lively, decidedly local scene that also venerated b-boying and graffiti. Now hip-hop is a global phenomenon and, in the United States, a massively successful corporate enterprise predominantly controlled and consumed by whites while the most prominent performers are black. How does this shift in racial dynamics affect our understanding of contemporary hip-hop, especially when the music perpetuates stereotypes of black men? Do black listeners interpret hip-hop differently from white fans?
These questions have dogged hip-hop for decades, but unlike most pundits, Michael P. Jeffries finds answers by interviewing everyday people. Instead of turning to performers or media critics, Thug Life focuses on the music’s fans—young men, both black and white—and the resulting account avoids romanticism, offering an unbiased examination of how hip-hop works in people’s daily lives. As Jeffries weaves the fans’ voices together with his own sophisticated analysis, we are able to understand hip-hop as a tool listeners use to make sense of themselves and society as well as a rich, self-contained world containing politics and pleasure, virtue and vice.
How gangsta rap shocked America, made millions, and pulled back the curtain on an urban crisis.
How is it that gangsta rap—so dystopian that it struck aspiring Brooklyn rapper and future superstar Jay-Z as “over the top”—was born in Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, surf, and sun? In the Reagan era, hip-hop was understood to be the music of the inner city and, with rare exception, of New York. Rap was considered the poetry of the street, and it was thought to breed in close quarters, the product of dilapidated tenements, crime-infested housing projects, and graffiti-covered subway cars. To many in the industry, LA was certainly not hard-edged and urban enough to generate authentic hip-hop; a new brand of black rebel music could never come from La-La Land.
But it did. In To Live and Defy in LA, Felicia Viator tells the story of the young black men who built gangsta rap and changed LA and the world. She takes readers into South Central, Compton, Long Beach, and Watts two decades after the long hot summer of 1965. This was the world of crack cocaine, street gangs, and Daryl Gates, and it was the environment in which rappers such as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E came of age.
By the end of the 1980s, these self-styled “ghetto reporters” had fought their way onto the nation’s radio and TV stations and thus into America’s consciousness, mocking law-and-order crusaders, exposing police brutality, outraging both feminists and traditionalists with their often retrograde treatment of sex and gender, and demanding that America confront an urban crisis too often ignored.
In the preface of The Vinyl Ain¹t Final, Robin Kelley exclaims "Hip Hop is Dead! Long Live Hip Hop", and the rest of the contributors in this edited volume respond by providing critical perspectives that bridge the gap between American-orientated hip hop and its global reach.
From the front lines of hip hop culture and music in the USA, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Hawaii, Tanzania, Cuba, Samoa and South Africa, academics, poets, practitioners, journalists, and political commentators explore hip hop -- both as a culture and as a commodity. From the political economy of the South African music industry to the cultural resistance forged by Afro-Asian hip hop, this potent mix of contributors provides a unique critical insight into the implications of hip hop globally and locally. Indispensable for fans of hip hop culture and music, this book will also appeal to anyone interested in cultural production, cultural politics and the implications of the huge variety of forms hip hop encompasses.
Dipa Basu is and Associate Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Pitzer College, Claremont, California. Her recent publications include 'Sociology of the Color Line' in Peter Ratcliffe, ed. The Politics of Social Science Research: Race, Ethnicity and Social Change (Palgrave Press, 2001). Sidney Lemelle is an Associate Professor of Black Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, California. He has co-edited with Robin D.G Kelley, Imagining Home: Class, Culture and Nationalism in the African Diaspora (Verso, 1994).
Reality first appeared in the late 1980s—in the sense not of real life but rather of the TV entertainment genre inaugurated by shows such as Cops and America’s Most Wanted; the daytime gabfests of Geraldo, Oprah, and Donahue; and the tabloid news of A Current Affair. In a bracing work of cultural criticism, Eric Harvey argues that reality TV emerged in dialog with another kind of entertainment that served as its foil while borrowing its techniques: gangsta rap. Or, as legendary performers Ice Cube and Ice-T called it, “reality rap.”
Reality rap and reality TV were components of a cultural revolution that redefined popular entertainment as a truth-telling medium. Reality entertainment borrowed journalistic tropes but was undiluted by the caveats and context that journalism demanded. While N.W.A.’s “Fuck tha Police” countered Cops’ vision of Black lives in America, the reality rappers who emerged in that group’s wake, such as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac Shakur, embraced reality’s visceral tabloid sensationalism, using the media's obsession with Black criminality to collapse the distinction between image and truth. Reality TV and reality rap nurtured the world we live in now, where politics and basic facts don’t feel real until they have been translated into mass-mediated entertainment.
Why Bushwick Bill Matters
By Charles L. Hughes University of Texas Press, 2021 Library of Congress ML420.B8976H85 2021 | Dewey Decimal 782.421649092
In 1989 the Geto Boys released a blistering track, “Size Ain’t Shit,” that paid tribute to the group’s member Bushwick Bill. Born with dwarfism, Bill was one of the few visibly disabled musicians to achieve widespread fame and one of the even fewer to address disability in a direct, sustained manner. Initially hired as a dancer, Bill became central to the Geto Boys as the Houston crew became one of hip-hop’s most important groups.
Why Bushwick Bill Matters chronicles this crucial artist and explores what he reveals about the relationships among race, sex, and disability in pop music. Charles L. Hughes examines Bill's recordings and videos (both with the Geto Boys and solo), from the horror-comic persona of “Chuckie” to vulnerable verses in songs such as “Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” to discuss his portrayals of dwarfism, addiction, and mental illness. Hughes also explores Bill’s importance to his era and to the longer history of disability in music. A complex figure, Bill exposed the truths of a racist and ableist society even as his violent and provocative lyrics put him in the middle of debates over censorship and misogyny. Confrontational and controversial, Bushwick Bill left a massive legacy as he rhymed and swaggered through an often-inaccessible world.