Unfortunately I think the previous reviewer may have missed the point of my book.
As I've said, in the book and in talks I've given on the book, I never set out to do a "definitive" history of hip-hop culture, let alone one simply about rap music. I don't believe that any one book could capture the breadth and depth of the hip-hop generation's contributions to culture and politics.
In 14+ years of writing on hip-hop from the street level around the globe, working (and often battling) in an international cipher of incredibly talented, passionate, and committed hip-hop artists (not just rappers), journalists, activists, writers, and scholars, I have developed a very strong opinion on this point: there are millions of ways to tell the story of the hip-hop generation. Mine is but one version. It's not "the" history, it's just "a" history.
I want to point everyone to some of the incredible writing that is available-in anthologies edited by people like Raquel Cepeda, Oliver Wang, and Rob Kenner, in books by Joan Morgan, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Bakari Kitwana, Raquel Rivera, Michael Eric Dyson, Mark Anthony Neal, S.H. Fernando, Adisa Banjoko, and Cheo Hodari Coker, and in fiction by Danyel Smith, Black Artemis, Erica Kennedy, and Adam Mansbach. There are classics of hip-hop writing by Tricia Rose, Brian Cross, Steven Hager, David Toop, Greg Tate, Billy Upski Wimsatt, James Spady, Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn. As I write this, I know of future classics still coming by people like Dave Tompkins, Brian Coleman, and many others. Nor am I trying to exclude the many other worthy and important writers out there-trust me, I've only scraped the surface of this expanding field of hip-hop generation (not just rap) books. Before long, our shelves should be bending from all the great stuff.
Let me talk about this book. In Can't Stop Won't Stop, I wanted to explore the notion that hip-hop is one of the big ideas of my generation. It's a powerful idea that unites us, divides us, that we feel deeply passionate about, that for many of us helps to define our identity, around the world.
So what I've tried to do here is to present the emergence of the hip-hop generation, through the cultural and the political changes that we've made and that have made us. In doing so, I chose to tell many less-told stories, both because I wanted to add to the shelf of books above and because each of these stories revealed a certain truth about the generation we have come to be.
I wanted the book to be a window on the last three decades of the 20th century, the so-called American Century. In another three decades, this will sound like common sense even if it doesn't right now: you can't talk about America without talking about hip-hop. And you can't talk about hip-hop without talking about America. This is why the book moves back and forth between hip-hop's content and hip-hop's context. I think they are inseparable. Understanding one only helps the understanding of the other.
Personally, I came to hip-hop as a young boy growing in Honolulu in the early 80s, so I am a product of the culture's global reach, and I document its global roots beginning in Jamaica and moving through to its role now as both a indispensable commodity for the multinational media corporations and a grassroots community movement that bridges people and places all over the map.
Finally, I've tried to capture and celebrate the joy that this culture has given to me and to millions of others-not just through rap, but through all of the aesthetic forms hip-hop has moved through and transformed. All throughout the book, my generation's promethean creative powers are on full and glorious display.
Hip-hop has grown from being a local culture to something bigger, something that frames the very way that we see and live in our world. So I wanted Can't Stop Won't Stop to be a history that also begins from the neighborhood level and expands into a generational worldview, with a lot of dope stuff to move to and think about along the way.
Thanks for reading this and please do check out some of the other books I've mentioned above.