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The Hip Hop & Obama Reader by Travis L. Gosa

Featuring a foreword by Tricia Rose and an Afterword by Cathy J. Cohen

Barack Obama flipped the script on more than three decades of conventional wisdom when he openly embraced hip hop—often regarded as politically radioactive—in his presidential campaigns. Just as important was the extent to which hip hop artists and activists embraced him in return. This new relationship fundamentally altered the dynamics between popular culture, race, youth, and national politics. But what does this relationship look like now, and what will it look like in the decades to come?

The Hip Hop & Obama Reader attempts to answer these questions by offering the first systematic analysis of hip hop and politics in the Obama era and beyond. Over the course of 14 chapters, leading scholars and activists offer new perspectives on hip hop's role in political mobilization, grassroots organizing, campaign branding, and voter turnout, as well as the ever-changing linguistic, cultural, racial, and gendered dimensions of hip hop in the U.S. and abroad. Inviting readers to reassess how Obama's presidency continues to be shaped by the voice of hip hop and, conversely, how hip hop music and politics have been shaped by Obama, The Hip Hop & Obama Reader critically examines hip hop's potential to effect social change in the 21st century. This volume is essential reading for scholars and fans of hip hop, as well as those interested in the shifting relationship between democracy and popular culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199341801
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/13/2015
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Travis L. Gosa is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. He holds faculty appointments in Education and American Studies, and is affiliated with the Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality. Since 2008, he has served on the advisory board of Cornell's Hip Hop Collection, the largest archive on early hip hop culture in the United States. He teaches courses on hip hop culture, educational inequality, and African American families. His most recent work has been published with peer-reviewed journals Poetics, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Teacher's College Record, Popular Music and Society, and the Journal of American Culture. He also writes regularly for popular outlets, including The Root, FoxNews, Ebony, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Erik Nielson is Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Richmond, where he teaches courses on African American literature, hip hop culture, and advanced writing. He received his M.A. in English from University College London and his Ph.D., also in English, from the University of Sheffield. He has lectured on African American literature and hip hop culture at major conferences in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, and he has published articles in several peer reviewed journals, including African American Review, MELUS, Race and Justice, International Journal of Cultural Studies, and Journal of Popular Music Studies. He also writes regularly for popular outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and NPR and has been interviewed by a wide range of national media organizations. He is currently at work on his manuscript, Under Surveillance: Policing the Resistance in Hip Hop, for Manchester University Press.

Table of Contents

About the Contributors

Foreword Tricia Rose, Brown University

Introduction: The State of Hip Hop in the Age of Obama
Erik Nielson, University of Richmond
Travis L. Gosa, Cornell University


1. Message from the Grassroots: Hip Hop Activism, Millennials, and the Race for the White House
Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, University of Connecticut

2. It's Bigger Than Barack: Hip Hop Political Organizing, 2004-2013
Elizabeth Méndez Berry, New York University
Bakari Kitwana, Author and CEO, Rap Sessions

3. "There Are No Saviors": Hip Hop and Community Activism in the Obama Era
Kevin Powell, Author and Activist

4. "Obama Nation": Hip Hop and Global Protest
Sujatha Fernandes, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City
University of New York

5. "Record! I am Arab": Paranoid Arab Boys, Global Cyphers, and Hip Hop Nationalism
Torie Rose DeGhett, Columbia University


6. Obama, Hip Hop, African American History, and "Historical Revivalism"
Pero G. Dagbovie, Michigan State University

7. "Change That Wouldn't Fill a Homeless Man's Cup Up": Filipino-American Political Hip Hop and Community Organizing in the Age of Obama
Anthony Kwame Harrison, Virginia Tech

8. Obama/Time: The President in the Hip-Hop Nation
Murray Forman, Northeastern University

9. One Day It Will All Make Sense: Obama, Politics and Common Sense
Charlie Braxton, Author and Activist

10. "New Slaves": The Soul of Hip-Hop Sold to Da Massah in the Age of Obama
Raphael Heaggans, Niagara University


11. YouTube and Bad Bitches: Hip Hop's Seduction Of Girls and The Distortion Of Participatory Culture
Kyra D. Gaunt, City University of New York

12. A Performative Account of Black Girlhood
Ruth Nicole Brown, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

13. The King's English: Obama, Jay Z, and the Science of Code Switching
Michael P. Jeffries, Wellesley College

14. My President is Black: Speech Act Theory and Presidential Allusions in the Lyrics of Rap Music
James Peterson and Cynthia Estremera, Lehigh University

Afterword: When Will Black Lives Matter? Neoliberalism, Democracy, and the Queering of American Activism in the Post-Obama Era
Cathy J. Cohen, University of Chicago

Subject Index

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