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Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (2005)

by Jeff Chang

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7551823,184 (4.12)2
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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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This was exactly what I was hoping it to be...touching on racial, gender, social, cultural, historical, political, and economic issues in addition to the development of the music itself. Exhaustive but only scratches the surface. So much of it kept me thinking, "The more things change..." and I can't help but hope for an update for everything that's happened since 2005. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
50. Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang
Introduction DJ Kool Herc
reader: Mirron Willis
published: 2005 (2016 on audio)
format: 19:33 Libby audiobook (560 pages in hardcover)
acquired: Library
listened: Aug 20-31, Sep 11-25
rating: 3

The book is dated, but what do I know? Outside the Beastie Boys and the maybe not-quite-Hip-Hop Red Hot Chili Peppers, I kind of missed this whole thing. Chang, currently the executive director the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, at Stanford University, writes an incomplete selective history of Hip-Hip and the cultures it came from. He's both fascinating and frustrating, but more the former than the later.

He presents an elaborate narrative from the Jamaica of Bob Marley, to the Jamaica-immigrant driven street Hip-Hop scene in the black and latino New York inner and suburban neighborhoods, to the take off of Hip-Hop in the mainstream culture and arts. He picks places to focus on, especially Marley, DJ Kool Herc (who wrote the introduction), Grandmaster Flash, graffiti artists like the Fab 5, to Public Enemy, to, when the book finally leaves New York for LA (about 3/4's in), Ice Cube, and NWA, and finally a long take on the magazine The Source. And he ties it all in, mostly, the Jamaican politics, a painfully detailed and confusion history of certain aspects of the New York gangs, police violence against blacks, over and over, and more and more horrifying, to Watts, Compton and the Rodney King Riots. But the book has some narrative issue at this point. Did the LA riots in 1992 really impact Hip-Hop? I couldn't tell from this, because Chang changes course attacking the music industry for it's failure to identify that Hip-Hop was the about the fastest growing music market in the 1990's, and then attacking US policy for allowing Clear Channel to sterilize American radio on a national scale.

That's a lot, and wanders off in way too much detail on a lot of this stuff, which is maybe ok. But there are gaping holes, and, as far as I can tell, he didn't interview anyone. He just quotes news articles and published sources. While reading it I looked up some YouTube videos on the early history of Hip-Hop and found a world of characters and names and voices he barely indicates exists. Most of these people are still around and they want to talk about the era, the technology tricks, the personalities, the crowds and cultural feedback. There is so much rich information, so much not here. It's a major oddball flaw, and one he never expresses. You get his summaries defined as complete. They're not.

Still, a good experience, and I'm glad I listened. I have a lot of music to explore...

2018
https://www.librarything.com/topic/288371#6588631 ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Sep 26, 2018 |
One of the best books about music period. ( )
  triphopera | Apr 14, 2018 |
Eh. Author Chang purports to look at the history of the hip-hop generation. As a means of expression, as a path for some to escape (in more ways than one) Chang traces the origins and beginnings from New York and Kingston, Jamaica to the driving force it has become and what it means for many today.
 
Or something like that. Even though I meant to read this book of his first (I actually ended up reading other titles by him beforehand) I have to say I'm not really sure if I was the audience for it. It's clear he's really passionate about his subject and it seems like he's put in a lot of work and research. But like other reviewers say, it seems like it's for people who already have some foundational knowledge (while mine really comes from whatever gets picked up in the mainstream media rather than niche and in-depth works).
 
I found myself lost in the myriad of names and music (since I wouldn't call myself a hardcore fan either). There's also quite a bit on gangs which was a bit of a surprise but I'm not sure if it really fit or works with his overall thesis, especially as other reviewers note that there are various topics Chang seemed to leave out for reasons unclear to them. After reading a book of essays and another book of his that looks at some of art and culture in the post Civil Rights times it seems that what Chang really needs is a better editor. 
 
He's got some great ideas and it's clear he's very passionate about them and sometimes he's got some really interesting things to say. But I think he needs a better editor/proofreader to help him really hammer out some of his thoughts. I'd read more by him but I'll probably stick to the library from now. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Feb 11, 2018 |
Excellent history of how hip-hop began and where it's been going. Really ties it into the original scene in the Bronx in the 70s. ( )
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Willis, MirronNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

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