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Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation Paperback – 2 Aug 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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  • Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; New Ed edition (2 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091912210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091912215
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Jeff Chang has spent the last decade researching a vivid and fascinating book which should remain the definitive history for at least as long ... Finally, rap gets the definitive history it deserves" (Q)

"Energetic and exhilarating ... There is a fearless sweep to this book. A distinct achievement" (Daily Telegraph)

"Inflammatory, illuminating, and anything but myopic, the scope of Chang's work is awe-inspiring" (DJ Shadow)

"Can't Stop Won't Stop knows hip hop to be the most significant musical-cultural revolution since rock and roll and tells its story from the bottom up" (Word)

"Has to rate as one of the most comprehensive studies of hip-hop history yet published" (Rock Sound)

Book Description

From the streets of the Bronx to the hills of Ghana, this is the definitive history of hip-hop - now in mass market paperback

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
...of the origins of hip-hop. Chang spent years researching his subject and it shows. From the very beginnings in Kingstown and the Bronx, Chang interviews the major players and also gives an overview of the political landscape of the time and how it shaped the lives of everyone involved. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the first 10 years of hip-hop up into the 80's and quite right as this is the most interesting. He writes of not only the music but of the other components of the movement such as breaking and graffiti artists. The way he covers Public Enemy is fascinating and we uncover a lot of truths about the band, good and bad. I'm not a big fan of rap music but this book deserves your attention. It is comparable of Simon Reynolds 'Rip It Up And Start Again' in that both books are thorough documents of important musical movements and are the last word on both.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
'Cant stop wont stop' starts well in its descriptions of the emergence of what Chang describes as 'the four main elements of hip hop' - new styles of art (graffitti,) dance (break,) and music (forms of DJing and MCing) which fermented in the south bronx in the post-civil rights era amidst a brew of black nationalism, pan afro-centrism, political/institutionalised neglect, post-industrialisation, drugs, unemployment and gang warfare to produce a distinctly original and compelling new art-form - but loses its way considerably half way through the book when the story changes from hip hop as underground sub-culture to mainstream dominance.

Chang is excellent on the forces that drove the emergence of hip hop in its early days, casting his net wider than merely recounting anecdotes relating to hip hop's 'founding fathers' Chang illuminates the subject matter by looking deeper at the topic, unearthing insights such as; 'if blues culture had developed under the conditions of oppressive, forced labour, hip hop culture would arise from the conditions of no work.' So far, so well written. The further the book progresses however, a book about hip hop with the political context from which it emerged in the background becomes a book about the politics of multi-culturalism and race relations in America in the 1980s/90s with hip hop in the background. One learns much about Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan but little about Run DMC and Tupac Shakur. Anyone who bought this book due to an interest in learning more about hip hop as I did will no doubt feel short-changed as a result.

The underlying problem with the book is focus. What is the book about? a history of the 'hip hop generation'? What does that term even mean? Nowhere is it defined and therein lies the problem.
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Format: Paperback
"Can't Stop Won't Stop" is a very well written and well researched book. However, be aware that it is a history of the "Hip-Hop Generation", as stated on the cover.
This means that it only sporadically delves into Hip-Hop music, b-boying, and graffiti (the elements of Hip-Hop culture). Chang is more interested in the generation of people who have grown up with Hip-Hop and he focuses on race, multiculturalism, the socio-economic background, and politics.
This makes it a tough book to review - taken on its own merits, it's extremely well done, but it comes off as disappointing to anyone who wanted a definitive history of Hip-Hop as a culture or music genre. As the book progresses, Chang's personal preferences for what he thinks should be the main points covered increasingly put Hip-Hop into the background, with politics, multiculturalism, and race taking center stage.
The book "Yes, Yes, Y'all" is the superior history to me, because although it doesn't cover as many years as "Can't Stop...", it successfully captures the voices of the people who were present in the creation of Hip-Hop, and it doesn't try to put a racial or political spin on everything that is said or done (it is entirely in the words of the pioneers).
So to sum up - "Can't Stop Won't Stop" is good if you're interested in multiculturalism, politics, and socio-economics, but not so great if you're a Hip-Hop fan.
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Format: Paperback
Jeff Chang's "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" looks, on the outset, to be a book primarily interested in music. It's not. This is a stunningly well researched history of the entire Hip-Hop culture covering DJing, Rapping, Graffiti, and Breakdance B-Boy style. Chang puts the entire genre into context in a similar fashion to John Savage's "England's Dreaming" yet while Savage is interested primarily in the music, Chang is more of a social/cultural historian. Hence he charts the development of the actual music itself in a rather cursory fashion which is likely to infuriate anyone who wants a history of Rap.

That said the whole movement is put into context giving a vivid history of gang culture, the development of Jamacian dancehall, the orgins of crack, the police brutality in California (and elsewhere) during the 90's to mention just a few of the other facts included. This is something of a treasure trove and gives wonderful and vivid detail of what Chang ends up citing Robin D G Kelly's idea of polyculturalism - understanding that a culure is made up of, and referencing, different quite distinct culural experiences. From that it's fair to conclude that Chang's ideas are academic at times but his writing style is very readable. Taking the voices of the people involved to tell the story also gives this book a great sense of the authentic. Speaking of this, I could almost recommend it just for Kool DJ Herc's blistering forward where the original Hip-Hop DJ strikes out in wonderfully eloquent style. His introduction should be read, and acted upon, by Barack Obama for its clarity of vision.

Due to Chang's particular interests the early years feel more detailed and the story clearly told.
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