The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop / Edition 1

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When Lauryn Hill stepped forward to accept her fifth Grammy Award in 1999, she paused as she collected the last trophy, and seeming somewhat startled said, “This is crazy, ‘cause this is hip hop music.’“ Hill’s astonishment at receiving mainstream acclaim for music once deemed insignificant testifies to the explosion of this truly revolutionary art form. Hip hop music and the culture that surrounds it—film, fashion, sports, and a whole way of being—has become the defining ethos for a generation. Its influence has spread from the state’s capital to the nation’s capital, from the Pineapple to the Big Apple, from ‘Frisco to Maine, and then on to Spain.

But moving far beyond the music, hip hop has emerged as a social and cultural movement, displacing the ideas of the Civil Rights era. Todd Boyd maintains that a new generation, having grown up in the aftermath of both Civil Rights and Black Power, rejects these old school models and is instead asserting its own values and ideas. Hip hop is distinguished in this regard because it never attempted to go mainstream, but instead the mainstream came to hip hop.

The New H.N.I.C., like hip hop itself, attempts to keep it real, and challenges conventional wisdom on a range of issues, from debates over use of the “N-word,” the comedy of Chris Rock, and the “get money” ethos of hip hop moguls like Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons, to hip hop’s impact on a diverse array of figures from Bill Clinton and Eminem to Jennifer Lopez.

Maintaining that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is less important today than DMX's It's Dark and Hell is Hot, Boyd argues that Civil Rights as a cultural force is dead, confined to a series of media images frozen in another time. Hip hop, on the other hand, represents the vanguard, and is the best way to grasp both our present and future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A convincing and entertaining case that hip-hop matters, Boyd's reading [of hip hop] is nothing less than inspired.”
-Mother Jones


The New H.N.I.C. brilliantly observes pivotal moments in hip hop and black culture as a whole . . . and [provocatively] raises the level of the hip hop discussion.”

-Black Issues Book Review,

“If you want to understand the direction of music today, read this book. Boyd expertly chronicles the birth of Hip Hop, its impact on all music and how the language and music defines a generation.”

- Tom Freston,CEO, MTV Networks

“Stand back! Todd Boyd brings the ruckus in this provocative look at how hip hop changed everything from the jailhouse to the White House—;and why it truly became the voice of a new generation.”
-Alan Light,Editor-in-Chief, Spin Magazine

“Those who are hip have always known that Black music is about more than simply nodding your head, snapping your fingers, and patting your feet. Like the proverbial Dude, back on the block, Dr. Todd Boyd, in his groundbreaking book The New H.N.I.C., tells us that like the best of this oral tradition, hip hop is a philosophy and worldview rooted in history and at the same time firmly of the moment. Dr. Boyd's improvisational flow is on point like be bop Stacy Adams and The New H.N.I.C.,in both style and substance, breaks down how this monumental cultural shift has come to redefine the globe. With mad props and much love, Dr. Boyd’s The New H.N.I.C. is the voice of a generation and stands poised at the vanguard of our future.”

-Quincy Jones,

Alan Light
Stand back! Todd Boyd brings the ruckus in this provocative look at how hip hop changed everything from the jailhouse to the White House—and why it truly became the voice of a new generation.
Spin Magazine
Black Issues Book Review
The New H.N.I.C. brilliantly observes pivotal moments in hip hop and black culture as a whole
Village Voice
Elegantly script[s] the fall of the previous generation alongside the rise of a new hip-hop ethos.
Library Journal
This misguided thesis takes its title from the first solo album by Prodigy of the rap group Mobb Deep, H.N.I.C. ("Head Nigga in Charge"). Boyd (critical studies, Univ. of Southern California, Sch. of Cinema-Television) intends to illustrate the pervasive influence of hip-hop, to the point that it obliterated the effects of the Civil Rights Movement. However, he fails to provide ample evidence: after dismissing Martin Luther King and others' efforts in a mere three pages, he pontificates on comedian Chris Rock and hip-hopreneur Russell Simmons, among other topics, in prose that mixes poststructuralist rhetoric ("tropes") with gutter slang ("muthafucka"). In addition to that problematic polarity, the book is shot through with sweeping generalizations, distorted braggadocio, and a tired, threadbare caucasophobia. All in all, Boyd talks more about himself than the music and movement. Scholars seeking a deconstructionist perspective on rap music will be far better served by Russell Porter's Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism. A collection of cogent, insightful interviews with rap pioneers, It's Not About a Salary: Hiphop in Los Angeles from the Watts Prophets to the Freestyle Fellowship remains the richest primary sourcebook on the sociopolitical significance of this important genre. Not recommended.-Bill Piekarski, Angelicus Webdesign, Lackawanna, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814798966
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/4/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 169
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Todd Boyd is Professor of Critical Studies in the USC School of Cinema-Television. His books include Am I Black Enough for You? Popular Culture from the 'Hood and Beyond and, as co-editor, Basketball Jones: America above the Rim, available from NYU Press. He produced and co-wrote the Paramount Pictures film The Wood.

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Table of Contents

Perface : game recognize game
Who we be : introducing the new H.N.I.C. 1
1 No time for fake niggas : hip hop, from private to public 24
2 Brothas gonna work it out : hip hop's ongoing search for the real 44
3 Can't knock the hustle : hip hop and the cult of playa hatin' 61
4 Head nigga in charge : Slick Willie, Slim Shady, and the return of the "white negro" 102
Epilogue : where's the love? 139
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    Dr. Boyd Explains It All

    If, like me, you've noticed hip hop's growing influence over every facet of our culture, and wondered what's up, this book is a must-read. Dr. Boyd shows us how and why hip hop has taken over and what it means for society at large. His analysis is insightful, provocative and occasionally hilarious. Once you see Eminem, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Sean Combs and Russell Simmons through Boyd's lens, and hear him break down the lyrics, you'll understand why Biggie and Tupac get more props now than Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King; why both urban and suburban youngsters have fallen under hip hop's spell, and why this culture now rules on Madison Avenue and in Hollywood. And by the end of the book, like me, you might even come to appreciate it.

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