Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff ChangGoodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
Hip-hop journalist Chang looks back on 30 years of the cultural landscape, with a particular focus on the African-American street scene, in this engaging and extensive debut. Chang's balanced assessment of rap's controversial trappings neither condemns gang culture nor forgives its sins, but places gangs in the conditions that birthed them and illustrates their influence on street culture. Chang also examines art forms that arose alongside the music: the b-boys "break dancers" with their James Brown—inspired, acrobatic battles and the graffiti artists, who practiced their defiant, "outlaw art" on the sides of subway trains and any other flat surface available. The vivid narrative alternates between Chang's historical elucidation and first-person accounts from the major players, including DJ Kool Herc, the mythic DJ who started it all at a West Bronx party; Afrika Bambaataa, who crossed gang boundaries for block parties, inspiring scores of others to enact truces and do the same; and Kurtis Blow, the first major-label rap artist, along with countless more. Most importantly, he documents stories that have been left unrecorded until now, with the oral histories of the gangs and artists.
In under pages, Jeff Chang has managed to give a detailed, fascinating and relevant history of hip-hop culture, covering almost every important aspect: the social conditions that gave rise to it, the stories of the people and communities that pioneered it and moved it forward, its transformation from a primarily party-oriented movement to a culture of resistance, its re-transformation to a culture of individualism and consumerism, and a peek into its future. Chang devotes the first few chapters to exploring the social conditions prevailing in New York, particularly the South Bronx, in the years leading up to the birth of hip-hop. In many ways, although it is not directly about hip-hop, this is the most important section of the book, as this history gives some important clues as to what makes hip-hop so special, so important. Chang describes one of the most crucial events that shaped the early hip-hop generation: the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway, between and This single road, designed to decrease travel times for rich suburban commuters, forced the relocation of some 60, working class Bronx residents. The South Bronx was a place of rapid economic deterioration, having lost , manufacturing jobs in the late 60s and early 70s. Chang gives vivid descriptions of the social degeneration that followed the economic degeneration, as the most prominent face of the South Bronx became the gangs, the slum landlords, the insurance scam fires, the race tensions, and the drugs.
A great book I didn't want to end, and would have liked more about the emerging hip-hop centers of Atlanta and St. Louis, which were mentioned only in passing in the final chapter. But a great Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style. Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can't Stop Won't Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation's rise from the ashes of the 60's into the new millennium.
It has become a powerful force. Hip-hop binds all of these people, all of these nationalities, all over the world together. Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. But that epic story has never been told like this. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.