NOVEMBER: books read
Can't Stop Won't Stop: a history of the hip-hop generation by Jeff Chang
When I first picked this book up off of the shelves of the music paperbacks at The Strand and read the back of it and decided it was well past my due to own and read this book, I did not think I would have learned as much as I did from reading it about both America, hip-hop and the past forty years. The book, among other awards, won the 2005 American Book Award. I knew it was going to be good. I knew it was going to be informative. Though it is of course colored by its author's perspective and opinions, it is also a revisionist history of history that you don't learn in high school. I never understood why we never focused more on current or recent events in high school. I had heard of the L.A. riots, but I never got a firsthand in-depth view of them until I read Can't Stop Won't Stop. Though the first half of the book does primarily focus on the roots of hip-hop music and how art of the street first came into the American psyche, the book tackles all that and more. The book covers more than just Afrika Bambaataa, Basquiat, Lady Pink, Run DMC and Boyz in the Hood, but also what led people to follow them by listening and paying attention to what they were doing. How hip hop and street culture came to be taken seriously in the eyes of the American hipster, artist, businessman, consumer and political activist are all covered in these pages. With extensive footnoting of his sources, Jeff Change manages to tell his reader how all of these things came together and made sense. What gave us the great divide between artists like Sean Puffy Combs and Talib Kweli? The roots of the divide can be found in-between the front and back cover of this excellent book on the history of a generation. I hope he writes another book that continues his story, once the story has taken shape in its continuation.