I was drawn to this book for obvious reasons. The title is a question that many Black-Americans ask each other more often than not. We probably have asked that same question in reference to many nuances of Black culture. It is no secret that Europeans have been obsessed with African culture since forever and their love for Hip Hop Culture is a decedent of that. This book was written by Bakari Kitwana in 2005 and it seems to serve even more of a purpose ten years later. Kitwana was actually preparing us for exactly what Rap music is today. There are a lot of predictions or theories in this book that have played out in the past ten years of the culture. The availability of technology may have even accelerated some of the things discussed in the work. The book is an easy read and I encourage any and every one to read it. It may prevent bullying in some cases for those who are in middle and or high school or those working with students in that age range.
The book is broken down into six parts with the first three delving into the three main questions we have of whites who participate in the culture; are they just acting white and who really listens to Hip Hop music the most? There are references included throughout the book which I urge readers to check out as well. Some of my favorite parts were found in section titled “Identity Crisis”. There were mentions of films such as Malibu’s Most Wanted to give the reader an idea of the type of white consumer he was currently describing. I enjoyed reading the interviews of two white people who listen to Hip Hop just as much as I do, it gave me a little insight as to how some white people actually begin listening to Hip Hop. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t think they were being sheltered from the music, in some cases they are, but what is that pivotal moment where they realizes that they actually enjoy Black music or Black culture. As with a lot of the books I review there’s always a lesson in history and economics that contribute to Hip Hop Culture’s rise or fall and this one is no different.
Going back to Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys making his way to the millennium with the situation between The Source and Eminem. Kitwana describes the different type of white Hip Hop consumer and writes the book in a sort of timeline that makes the book flow very well allowing the reader to see how we have gotten to where we are today in Hip Hop Culture and Rap music. This work provides an understanding of why we see people like Riff Raff versus a Paul Wall. Another great part about the book is how it details how white people use and control of Hip Hop Culture now with their own audience in mind forgoing, appropriating, and leaching off of Black-American Culture which created the genre in the first place. This book is ideal for those who are looking to work in the business or those who may be interested in how the music business works. This book would also be great in a sociology class, I really enjoyed the work.