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Hip-hop holds African-Americans back, author says

Hip-hop holds African-Americans back, author says
Angela Woodall, Oakland Tribune | May 12, 2010

A group of teenagers armed with little more than an attitude and some turntables created a rebellion 30 years ago in the Bronx. The fire spread across the globe, from Beirut to Beijing, where youths use hip-hop to rap about being denied freedom, power and a voice.

Back at home, the lingua franca of the counterculture has become the language of vapid commercialism and empty values, according to author Thomas Chatterton Williams.

The argument he makes in his book, “Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture,” is not about high culture versus low culture. Neither is the book — Williams’ first — a thinly disguised attempt to make money by offering lurid details about hip-hop’s royalty.

The stakes are too high for that, especially for African-Americans, said Williams by telephone during a national book tour that touches down Friday at the Book Passage in Corte Madera.

The stakes are higher, he said, because racism and now hip-hop have limited what it means to be black by insisting on one measure: street culture as embodied by Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z. (Read the full article)


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