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Can't Stop Won't Stop - A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang
By Peter Doherty
Now this might have been around for a while (first published in 2005), but I only picked it up in HMV a couple of weeks ago for a fiver. Money well spent is not in it. It's a fantastic book. A history the roots of Hip Hop deserves. This is the birth and growing pains of what is, arguably, the longest lasting and probably most influential musical form the world has seen. It is doubtful that any musical form has lasted as long in a position of dominance or commanded as much media and public attention that hip hop has. Listen to any kid playing tunes on their phone. It won't be Floyd or the Fabs, Motown or Muddy Waters. It will be RandB, which is a hip-hop distillation by another name or gangsta by any definition.
Here we get the seeds from Jamaica and the Bronx, with Kool Herc, Flash, Fab Five Freddie and Bambaataa all having input. Graffiti and gangs are highlighted in the New York pages. As is the flight to suburbia by the white population and the grimness and poverty that was left behind. There is a compact history of Public Enemy which is fantastic. To me there can never be enough PE. Then LA takes over with the seeds of Gangsta, focusing on the birth of NWA, the seeds of the Crips and Bloods, the fight against the LAPD and what ultimately became the pursuit of cash and the mainstream over ideas and ideals. Throughout there is background politics with the Black Panthers, The Nation of Islam, Reaganomics and the all round abandonment of Black America after the Civil Rights 60's, adding to the climate that Hip Hop came from. Then what hip-hop has become. The birth of "The Source" and "Vibe" are covered as hip-hop becomes a "lifestyle" and a Capitalists wet dream.
From Planet Rock to the Daisy Age, itís all here. Looking now you'd think that it was all about cars and money. That itís now a cash cow is not in doubt but it wasnít always so. This book takes you back to when hip-hop was almost, as Chuck D said, "Black CNN". If you've ever blasted Boo-Yaa or Rakim then get this.
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