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Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the…
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Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

by Jeff Chang

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I found this a bit disappointing to be honest, but that's in large part because I was expecting something different. Chang doesn't really get into music/graffiti/lyrics/dancing very much at all; he does, though, do a great job of explaining the social context in which all that art was produced. So keep in mind that that's what you're getting - a history of gang culture, youth politics and (most impressively) urban geography at the end of the twentieth century - and you'll probably enjoy the book.

That said, there are major flaws, starting with the fact that it's hard to read. Not because Chang doesn't write clearly, because he does. It's just *literally* hard to read; the font's a couple of pixels better than Comic Sans. Who in their right mind sets a book in a sans-serif font? Are the publishers trying to send a whole generation of readers blind? More importantly, Chang's incredible research - really, amazing - is undermined by an overly simplistic political frame, which you could pretty much describe as 'Fuck the Man.' Sometimes the Man has it coming. Sometimes whoever it is that isn't the man has to take some of the blame. But you'd never know that from this book; here it's *always* the Man's fault and His alone.

So there's a weird 90s vibe to the whole thing. In the Prelude Chang writes that 'Hip-Hop Generation' describes, among other things, "the turn from politics to culture." I have no idea what he was thinking when he wrote that, because his book is almost entirely about politics, activism, in particular. That makes the book tendentious: chapters on Public Enemy and (mid-period) Ice Cube, but nothing on ATCQ or any of the other late-80s early 90s geniuses? A chapter on The Source, but nothing on the indies that emerged after that magazine imploded? And, weirdest of all, chapters on the Million Man March and anti-Globalization protests, but only a passing mention of the incredible music of that time (Wu-Tang, for instance, is mentioned only as an antagonist of The Source's editorial crew, and in one line about nineties paranoia). Obviously this isn't because he doesn't know his stuff; he's forgotten more about hip-hop than I'll ever know (seriously, the man co-founded SoleSides. He knows his stuff). It's just that the book turns out to be more a history of many-raced activists, and has very little to say about music. Here's hoping he brings his writing style and impeccable research skills to a book about the music, graf, and dancing. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I went to hear Jeff Chang and Toure speak at Housing Works Used Book Cafe, way back when Can't Stop Won't Stop came out. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, sort of unassuming. Not that this is relevant, necessarily. Plenty of great books written by assholes.
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
Aúnque a ratos me ha costado un poco seguirlo y ha puesto a prueba mi nivel de inglés, me ha gustado que me explicasen algo de los orígenes del hip hop. Sólo recomendable si te interesa esa música. ( )
  membrillu | Oct 30, 2009 |
Aúnque a ratos me ha costado un poco seguirlo y ha puesto a prueba mi nivel de inglés, me ha gustado que me explicasen algo de los orígenes del hip hop. Sólo recomendable si te interesa esa música. ( )
  membrillu | Oct 30, 2009 |
"Hip-hop is the voice of this generation. Even if you didn't grow up in the Bronx in the '70s, hip-hop is there for you. It has become a powerful force. Hip-hop binds all of these people, all of these nationalities, all over the world together."
—DJ Kool Herc, from the Introduction

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told like this. From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the hip-hop activists, Can't Stop Won't Stop presents the hip-hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit, and style.

Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can't Stop Won't Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation's rise from the ashes of the 60s into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.

http://www.cantstopwontstop.com/book.cfm
  opirg-carleton | Feb 25, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312425791, Paperback)

Many good books have been written about the history of hip-hop music and the generation that nurtured it. Can't Stop Won't Stop ranks among the best. Jeff Chang covers the music--from its Jamaican roots in the late 1960s to its birth in the Bronx; its eventual explosion from underground to the American mainstream--with style, including DJs, MCs, b-boys, graffiti art, Black Nationalism, groundbreaking singles and albums, and the street parties that gave rise to a genuine movement. But the book is about more than beats and rhymes. What distinguishes his book from the pack is Chang's examination of how hip-hop has shaped not only pop music, but American history and culture over the past 30 years. He shows how events such as urban flight, race riots, neighborhood reclamation projects, gang warfare in the Bronx and Los Angeles, and grassroots movements that influenced political agendas are as integral a part of the hip-hop story as the music itself. He also charts the concurrent rise of hip-hop activism and the commodification of the music and the ideological clashes that developed as a result.

Based on hundreds of interviews and over a decade of work as a respected music journalist, Chang offers colorful profiles of the lives and influences of "the trinity of hip-hop music"--Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Kool Herc--along with many other artists, label executives, DJs, writers, filmmakers, and promoters. Impressive in its scope, Can't Stop Won't Stop is a lively and sharply written exploration of the power of hip-hop to unite people across generational, racial, and economic lines. --Shawn Carkonen

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style. Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can't Stop Won't Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation's rise from the ashes of the 60's into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.… (more)

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