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The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop-and Why It Matters Paperback – 2 Dec 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books (2 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465008976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465008971
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Tricia Rose is a professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. She specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century African-American culture and politics, social thought, popular culture, and gender issues. The author of the seminal Black Noise, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Great and insightful book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8e0fde58) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8df54af8) out of 5 stars Tricia Rose is phenomenal! 9 Dec. 2008
By Kalyana - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are very few people I know who look at hip hop not just with a critical eye, but with such a far reaching all encompassing perspective. Tricia Rose will flip how you have ever viewed (and listened to) hip hop, leaving you wondering how you could have missed it all along, while at the same time wondering what you can do about it: as a reader and/or an artist. As a brilliant author and professor, allow her to teach you about hip hop...4 real. Its nice to have such an astounding critically thinking woman in the game!
56 of 75 people found the following review helpful
By Drew - Published on
Format: Paperback
Black Noise was a very interesting, poignant analysis of the development of hip hop. Tricia Rose provided insight on the social, political, technological, and economic factors that contributed to the creation of hip hop. It appears, however, that Rose is no longer a hip hop expert. If anything, she is only an expert on the early days of hip hop (up to the 90s) but her ignorance to recent hip hop developments is painfully obvious in this book.

I don't believe that she has listened to hip hop seriously in 10 years nor do I believe she understands the sentiment of young (16-28 year old) hip hop fans and followers. The people who buy 50 cent, TI, Lil Wayne or Jay-Z cds and understand their music as "autobiographical" are the same people following Us weekly's coverage of Britney Spear's mental breakdown with schadenfreude-istic pleasure, or buying Mylie Cyrus cds and fighting to the death to attend her concerts, naive consumers whose reductive understanding of culture feeds their need for sensational media. The parents of these idiotic consumers are the only ones who are causing all this political concern (them, and the bougie blacks like Bill Cosby who are overly concerned with what whites think of us).

Most rappers are aware and vocal of the fact that they are producing a persona, a character. Jay-Z, TI, Lil Wayne and even Cam'Ron have all explicitly said in one interview or on their albums / mixtapes that they draw a distinction between who they are as people, and the character that they are crafting in their music for entertainment purposes (interviews Rose does not cite). Why does Jay-Z get shot at the end of his 99 problems video? It was supposed to represent the death of Jay-Z the character and rebirth of Sean Carter the person (didn't last long...but that was the point). Watch 50 cent's video for In Da Club. We see Eminem and Dr. Dre doing physical tests and experiments on 50, in essence, creating 50 cent, juxtaposed with his resulting club/market persona. Most serious hip hop fans understand this divide, and the most successful, perennial rappers are the ones who consciously and creatively craft their persona in contrast to their real selves.

The reality is, hip hop was party music to begin with. It is no surprise, then, that hip hop functions mainly as party music in popular culture. People like Kanye West, Common, and Lupe Fiasco provide a much needed alternative, but I would hate for them to be the only hip hop archetypes.

What we see in a lot of discussions around hip hop is an anxiety around what others (mainly whites) think about black people. A fear of reinforcing stereotypes and "airing our dirty laundry." This is the psychosis of the Baby Boomer/X generations that most young people reject but that Rose proves herself incapable of overcoming. That is not to say that racial stereotypes do not manifest themselves anymore, or that these stereotypes do not negatively affect black people's status in America. Rather, I argue that young black and white people are tired of the monomaniacal fixation with the politics of positive/negative racial representations. We are willing to be aware of our biases and attempt to judge individuals accordingly.

The bottom line is, black people are people like anybody else with diverse sentiments and opinions. If white people want to pay black people to market themselves as thugs, this should have no bearing on black people's overall consciousness. Instead of promoting exclusively "positive" representations that appeal to white/bourgeois standards, we should promote a consciousness around persona and blackness in America (one which acknowledges the difference between the perception of black life and the reality of black life) that seeks to exploit the market, rather than change it. Until race and culture no longer serve as capital to be commodified and sold, I believe the market will not change. Consumers want what they expect and will pay handsomely for it. Let's take advantage of that, while being conscious of who we are and our potential as a people. Instead of simple saying "I'm gettin' mine" we should say "I'm gettin' mine for us"...which many rappers do (see the philanthropic ventures of TI, Cam'ron...etc)

Ultimately, Tricia Rose provides more of the same arguments we've been seeing for the last decade, and, even in her progressive section, offers nothing new to the discussion.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3cc8ac) out of 5 stars Much needed perspective and call for transformative action 26 April 2009
By Witness - Published on
Format: Paperback
Having recently discussed _The Hip Hop Wars_ with numerous students and people, it has become increasingly clear to me how necessary Rose's arguments are to the hyperbolic and contentious context currently shaping the national conversation on hip hop. The book's most significant contribution is to demonstrate that hip hop is so heavily coded with implied and symbolic meanings; and that we can no longer afford to think of hip hop simply as "innocent music and artistry." Nor is it enough that there are numerous underground artists doing something different than what mainstream hip hop promotes.

If the history of this country wasn't so fraught with old and new forms of racism, perhaps that approach to hip hop would be possible. Instead, we have a context in which hip hop is constantly made to stand in as a representation of all black people and to stand in for various forms of "deviance." Rose demonstrates how representations circulated by mainstream hip hop allow people to excuse themselves from dealing with their own complicity in racism, sexism, homophobia and systemic inequality. By taking both hip hop's critics and defenders to task, Rose insists that there are very real consequences to leaving these matters unaddressed.

Stepping into a club and seeing the ways so many men and women, boys and girls of all races mimic what they see in mainstream hip hop representations tells us that the 'hip hop trinity' is schooling youth to interact in ways that often reinforce sexism/racism/homophobia while leaving the larger forces that drive systemic inequality invisible.

One of the things I have witnessed consistently in discussing _The Hip Hop Wars_ is how people will often fall back into the rhetoric of either the critics or the defenders of hip hop as they talk about the book. Though Rose takes the time to outline the mutual denials that both critics and defenders have left intact, people's refusal to detach themselves from their investments in the current state of mainstream hip hop often takes us back into the same spiraling cycle. Because after all, isn't mainstream hip hop tremendously useful for allowing numerous investments to remain intact? One can hold onto his or her investment in racist projections of 'pathology', because this allows them to evade the ways they are complicit in perpetuating systemic inequality. One can hold onto their investment in racist projections of 'sexual deviance,' because this helps one disavow the practices and policies that perpetuate women of color's vulnerability to violence and inequality. One can hold onto sexist projections of 'hoes,' because this allows investments in destructive forms of masculine power to remain intact. One can hold onto their investments in the capital and wealth derived from mainstream hip hop by saying that performers are just 'artists', because this helps people distance themselves from the ways life chances are systematically being stripped away from youth in devastated communities.

And my favorite, one can claim to be THE exception to this context, miraculously outside of the world of mainstream hip hop even as it pervades the culture, people's interactions and assumptions everywhere (see Drew's review above).

Rose is most powerful in her call to move beyond this spiraling cycle toward transformative action--both in the industry, the music, in ourselves, and in mass social action toward systemic equality. But only a few are fearless enough to take on that call.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e81dac8) out of 5 stars Fantastic Textbook! 22 July 2011
By John B. Simms - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Rose's book is a testament to the power of intelligent, nuanced examinations of our complex world. She looks at 10 arguments about Hip Hop (5 in support and 5 against), peers back at the historical basis of these points, and washes off all the fluff. This results in a book whose complexity extends as deep as you are willing to go. Some of my 13-year-olds understand the surface arguments separate from one another. Others understand how the two function simultaneously. The majority of my students comprehend that each argument usually results in a superficial understanding of a complex issue- issues requiring a great deal of reflection on one's own perceptions and how those perceptions are influenced by the communities in which we live. It's a heavy lift for kids this age. Someone who knows their community in and out and yet is willing to admit the fact they still don't know enough to really "KNOW" that community is going to love working with the Hip Hop generation on this book. Good luck to Dr. Rose and all who engage this very worthwhile book.Pedagogy of the OppressedPedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage (Critical Perspectives)Literacy: Reading the Word and the World
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3cdb94) out of 5 stars Great work! 27 July 2011
By Jason - Published on
Format: Paperback
An acclaimed scholar with degrees from Yale and Brown, Rose's latest work failed to disappoint on every level. Whatever your views are on hip hop, give this book a read, especially if you appreciate it. A couple themes explored in this text juxtaposed with hip hop are culture, politics and more. Rose's investigative talents surely flip around the way one views this art form immensely. Contrary to one view, her citations of more modern day tunes. combined with a listing of newer artists, indicates her ears focus on both the old style rap just as well as she does on newer, more corporate envisioned songs coloring a minority's lifestyle by negative, stigmatized terms far from the lives many in those communities live today.
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