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In this uneven critique of mainstream and socially "conscious" rap and hip-hop, McWhorter (Losing the Race) pillories the genre for positioning itself as a political—even revolutionary—medium. In the author's analysis, hip-hop is typified by narcissism rather than altruism, a culture of complaint rather than creative solution and a willful blindness to the real problems affecting black communities; McWhorter demonstrates how frequently artists rail against police brutality and how few mention HIV/AIDS, the single biggest killer of African-Americans. The author's admiration for the genre generally keeps his criticisms from sounding shrill, but it cannot compensate for the book's flaws. While McWhorter lambastes rappers for failing to address "real" issues, he doesn't either: like the hip-hop artists he chides, the author romanticizes activism while appearing clueless about the nuts and bolts of grassroots work. Equally troubling are McWhorter's unsubstantiated theories, chief among them his claim that African-Americans are more inclined to judge a statement by how it sounds than what it communicates. More interested in skewering hip-hop than suggesting paths to substantive social change, this book ultimately frustrates more than it illuminates. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Posted January 9, 2010
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I enjoyed this book. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in hip-hop. with that being said, I think Mcwhorter's idea of political change is different that most hip-hop heads. I agree with most points that the author makes: Hip-hop is arguing for the sake of arguing in many cases, but there have been times where people have been fired up as a result of hip-hop. Hip-hop has brought to light many cases that would normally be obscure. I remember Chubb Rock talking about Yusef Hawkins, which caused me to do the research and find out what happened. Without Rap, I would have been in the dark. So to emphasize: Rap is not in the business of changing the political landscape, or even working within the political landscape most of the times. Rap is an empowerment tool that is designed to inform and hopefully get people to think. The problem is, which McWhorter has definitely pointed out, is that you can't be taken seriously when you make a brilliant political rap, then you are right back talking about Hoes, and money, and selling drugs. Nas is a prime example, also Tupac. Nas is brilliant at times, but then he slinks right back to talking about sex, drugs, or other mundane topics. You have to take the good with the bad, but let's not push rap off as meaningless when it comes to political movements. You may need to scale down your expectations. Check out my new book Plain Talk volume 1 on Racism and stereotypes. Oh yeah, buy this book as well!!!
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Posted April 21, 2009
I heard John McWhorter on the Micheal Medved radio show and was quite inspired by his words. McWhorter is definetly a leader. I can't wait to read this book and others that he has written. I wish there were people like McWorther in politics.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2012
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