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As the title suggests, poet Asante (creative writing, Morgan State Univ.; Beautiful. And Ugly Too) looks at hip-hop as not just a type of music but a cultural force. He envisions hip-hop-a phrase probably derived, he notes, from the African Wolof word hipi, to open one's eyes and see, and an Old English word that means to spring into action-being used as a tool for social change. Hip-hop started in the poor, urban African American community of the Bronx, NY, in the 1970s and was rooted in social activism. Asante argues that contemporary mainstream hip-hop does not adequately address the issues of the black community and that artists (or "artivists") who deal with real social issues (e.g., poverty, drugs, police brutality) are censored by the larger corporations that control and own the distribution of music. Asante expertly blends historical information about hip-hop and the civil rights movement with personal narrative, interviews with artists, and quotations from civil rights leaders and classic poetry to create an original and daring work. This well-researched book is recommended for public and academic libraries.