Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop


It's not just rap music. Hip-hop has transformed theater, dance, performance, poetry, literature, fashion, design, photography, painting, and film, to become one of the most far-reaching and transformative arts movements of the past two decades.American Book Award-winning journalist Jeff Chang, author of the acclaimed Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, assembles some of the most innovative and provocative voices in hip-hop to assess the most important cultural movement of our time. It's ...

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Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

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It's not just rap music. Hip-hop has transformed theater, dance, performance, poetry, literature, fashion, design, photography, painting, and film, to become one of the most far-reaching and transformative arts movements of the past two decades.American Book Award-winning journalist Jeff Chang, author of the acclaimed Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, assembles some of the most innovative and provocative voices in hip-hop to assess the most important cultural movement of our time. It's an incisive look at hip-hop arts in the voices of the pioneers, innovators, and mavericks.With an introductory survey essay by Chang, the anthology includes: Greg Tate, Mark Anthony Neal, Brian “B+” Cross, and Vijay Prashad examining hip-hop aesthetics in the wake of multiculturalism. Joan Morgan and Mark Anthony Neal discussing gender relations in hip-hop. Hip-hop novelists Danyel Smith and Adam Mansbach on "street lit" and "lit hop". Actor, playwright, and performance artist Danny Hoch on how hip-hop defined the aesthetics of a generation. Rock Steady Crew b-boy-turned-celebrated visual artist DOZE on the uses and limits of a "hip-hop" identity. Award-winning writer Raquel Cepeda on West African cosmology and "the flash of the spirit" in hip-hop arts. Pioneer dancer POPMASTER FABEL's history of hip-hop dance, and acclaimed choreographer Rennie Harris on hip-hop's transformation of global dance theatre. Bill Adler's history of hip-hop photography, including photos by Glen E. Friedman, Janette Beckman, and Joe Conzo. Poetry and prose from Watts Prophet Father Amde Hamilton and Def Poetry Jam veterans Staceyann Chin, Suheir Hammad, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Kevin Coval. Roundtable discussions and essays presenting hip-hop in theatre, graphic design, documentary film and video, photography, and the visual arts. “Total Chaos is Jeff Chang at his best: fierce and unwavering in his commitment to document the hip-hop explosion. In beginning to define a hip-hop aesthetic, this gathering of artists, pioneers, and thinkers illuminates the special truth that hip-hop speaks to youth around the globe.” (Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip-Hop Generation)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this wide-ranging, academic anthology of essays, interviews and panel discussions, 2005 American Book Award–winner Jeff Chang (Can't Stop, Won't Stop) presents hip-hop's past, present and future as seen by some of its founding figures, guiding lights, journalists and scholars. From a post–civil rights era grassroots phenomenon born in the streets of the Bronx, N.Y., hip-hop has become a global cultural movement whose stylistic impact and social perspectives clearly extend beyond popular rap music. Part manifesto, part apologia, the collection takes on such topics as the aesthetics behind hip-hop photography and graffiti, offers an informative history of hip-hop dance and assesses hip-hop's effects on literature and theater, while pursuing debates about identity, sexuality and homophobia. Especially intriguing are pieces documenting hip-hop's sociopolitical influence in Cuba (Chang's interview with filmmaker Eli Jacobs-Fauntauzzi) and South Africa (an essay by Capetown natives Shaheen Ariefdien, performer/anthropologist, and Nazli Abrahams, an educator). Not surprisingly, amid talk about "keepin' it real" and multiculturalism, multiple definitions of hip-hop emerge—ideas and values that are as varied and contradictory as the book's attempt to critically scrutinize hip-hop in context. (Feb.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After his history of hip-hop, Can't Stop Won't Stop, journalist Chang offers an aptly titled anthology on this music-art-culture agglomerate, with contributions from an authoritative and varied crew of hip-hop scholars, advocates, and artists. Here, Chang attempts a survey of the state of hip-hop today and works to answer the popular question, "What is hip-hop?" Loosely organized into five sections dealing with the history of hip-hop, hip-hop beyond the four elements (rapping, DJing, graffiti, and break dancing), identity in the hip-hop generation, international hip-hop, and the future of hip-hop, the text ranges from poetry and essays to panel discussions and interviews. What is historicized here (e.g., Jorge "Fabel" Pabon of the Rock Steady Crew on hip-hop dance) vs. what is actively discussed (e.g., Vibe's Danyel Smith on the tension between street lit and black literary fiction) sheds light on hip-hop's chaotic but rooted journey. Not designed for research purposes, the collection stands up to a straight-through read. Recommended for popular culture and music collections.-Anna Katterjohn, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465009091
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 697,282
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Chang is the author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, for which he was awarded the 2005 American Book Award. He has been featured on Vibe Magazine’s Top 100 “Juice” List. Chang tours extensively, lecturing at universities, museums, and community arts organizations around the country. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Hip-Hop Arts: Our Expanding Universe   Jeff Chang     ix
Roots: Perspectives on Hip-Hop History     3
Dreams of a Final Theory   Harry Allen     7
Nommo   Anthony "Amde" Hamilton     10
(Yet Another) Letter to a Young Poet   Marc Bamuthi Joseph     11
Physical Graffiti: The History of Hip-Hop Dance   Jorge "Popmaster Fabel" Pabon     18
The Art of Battling: An Interview with Zulu King Alien Ness   Joe Schloss     27
Got Next: A Roundtable on Identity and Aesthetics after Multiculturalism   Greg Tate   Vijay Prashad   Mark Anthony Neal   Brian Cross     33
Flipping the Script: Beyond the Four Elements     55
The Pure Movement and the Crooked Line: An Interview with Rennie Harris   Jeff Chang     59
Found in Translation: The Emergence of Hip-Hop Theatre   Eisa Davis     70
From the Dope Spot to Broadway: A Roundtable on Hip-Hop Theatre, Dance, and Performance   Marc Bamuthi Joseph   Kamilah Forbes   Traci Bartlow   Javier Reyes     78
On Lit Hop   Adam Mansbach     92
Who Shot Ya: A History of Hip-Hop Photography   Bill Adler     102
Words and Images: A Roundtable on Hip-Hop Design   Cey Adams   Brent Rollins   Sacha Jenkins     117
Between the Studio and the Street: Hip-Hop in the Postmillennial Visual Arts   Lydia Yee   Nadine Robinson   Samford Biggers   Luis Gispert   Jackie Salloum     133
The City in Public versus Private: Through a Scanner Darkly   Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky     149
The Real: Identity in Flux     161
Trapped in between the Lines: The Aesthetics of Hip-Hop Journalism   Oliver Wang     165
L-vis Is a Pioneer; or, Legacy: The VH1 Special   Kevin Coval     175
Burn Rubber on Plastic Bubbles: "Gangsta Limpin'" and the Art of Dave Funkenklein   Dave Tompkins     178
Black Talk and Hot Sex: Why "Street Lit" Is Literature   Danyel Smith     188
It's All One   Juba Kalamka   Tim'm West     198
Homothugdragsterism   Joel Barraquiel Tan     209
How I found my inner DJ   Robert Karimi     219
A Brand-New Feminism   Joan Morgan   Mark Anthony Neal     233
Worldwide: Hip-Hop Arts Beyond Borders     247
Brooklyn   Suheir Hammad      249
Falling for Bob Marley   Staceyann Chin     252
Inventos Hip-Hop: An Interview with Eli Jacobs-Fauntauzzi   Jeff Chang     255
Cape Flats Alchemy: Hip-Hop Arts in South Africa   Shaheen Ariefdien   Nazli Abrahams     262
AfroBlue: Incanting Yoruba Gods in Hip-Hop's Isms   Raquel Cepeda     271
Native Tongues: Hip-Hop's Global Indigenous Movement   Cristina Veran   Darryl "DLT" Thompson   Litefoot   Grant Leigh Saunders   Mohammed Yunus Rafiq   JAAS     278
Next Elements: Hip-Hop Arts and Future Aesthetics     293
Untitled   Walidah Imarisha     297
Theatres Crossing the Divide: A Baby Boomer's Defense of Hip-Hop Aesthetics   Roberta Uno     300
Put Your Camera Where My Eyes Can See: Hip-Hop Video, Film, and Documentary   Eric K. Arnold   Rachel Raimist   Kevin Epps   Michael Wanguhu     306
Codes and the B-Boy's Stigmata: An Interview with DOZE   Jeff Chang     321
Revolution: An Interview with Brett Cook-Dizney   Jeff Chang 331     331
Scarcity and Exploitation: The Myth and Reality of the Struggling Hip-Hop Artist   Rha Goddess     340
Toward a Hip-Hop Aesthetic: A Manifesto for the Hip-Hop Arts Movement   Danny Hoch     349
Acknowledgments     365
Index     367
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