I’ve been waiting to review this book for a while. I was prompted to do so after hearing the author on air with Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club. The fact that the author, M.K. Asante, Jr. is around my age really got my attention. So this month I made it my business to review this book for the month of June. I want to start off by saying this book is probably the best Hip Hop book I’ve reviewed so far. This book is a great read for adults and young people alike. The author shares a little about himself to bring in the reader and demonstrates how government policies affect us on a real level.
The book is a complete timeline of the birth of Hip Hop and the establishment of policies that began as early as slavery evolving into Jim Crow all the way to the twenty-first century drug laws that have disrupted the black experience in the U.S. since then. The author constructs a visual of how Blacks in this country have been treated due to those debilitating policies. Touching on prison rates, lack of education, and economic resources. It further reaffirms why we here at The Society focus on the Four Initiatives; education, economics, politics, and social issues. Each one effects the other. It is a cycle and we have been stuck in it for reasons discussed in the literature. The framing and murders of our more vocal and visible Black leaders of the past by our own government set the stage for why we don’t have those same types of leaders today.
The book goes on to discuss the business side of Hip Hop noting that the Hip Hop community and the industry are two different entities which a lot of young people don’t understand. It sheds light on marketing and ownership within the industry and how labels take advantage of new up and coming musicians as well as the icons of jazz and blues both fathers of the Rap music. Describing the somewhat hidden agenda by the labels that include censoring artists that aren’t willing to sell an image for profit. There are lyrics imbedded within the chapters that coincide with what is being read. All the while various issues throughout the black community that mirror social issues we see on social media today. Reminding us that police brutality isn’t a new occurrence and that we have been ‘rebelling’ for centuries!
One of my favorite parts of the book is the conversation the author has with ‘the ghetto’ describing its origins and evolution into what we perceive as ‘the ghetto’ in 2015. There are a lot of historical events mentioned in this work that I think readers who aren’t particularly familiar with the events should look into and follow up with their own research. This is where educators could assign group projects or at least have an open discussion on a lot of those past events effecting us now and how the same events are currently being repeated. I urge the majority of you to pick up this book. It may even be at your local library just check the online catalog or mkasante.com.