Catalogue


All about the beat : why hip-hop can't save Black America /
John McWhorter.
imprint
New York, N.Y. : Gotham Books, 2008.
description
186 p.
ISBN
9781592403745 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York, N.Y. : Gotham Books, 2008.
isbn
9781592403745 (hardcover)
catalogue key
6487613
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-04-21:
In this uneven critique of mainstream and socially "conscious" rap and hip-hop, McWhorter (Losing the Race) pillories the genre for positioning itself as a political--even revolutionary--medium. In the author's analysis, hip-hop is typified by narcissism rather than altruism, a culture of complaint rather than creative solution and a willful blindness to the real problems affecting black communities; McWhorter demonstrates how frequently artists rail against police brutality and how few mention HIV/AIDS, the single biggest killer of African-Americans. The author's admiration for the genre generally keeps his criticisms from sounding shrill, but it cannot compensate for the book's flaws. While McWhorter lambastes rappers for failing to address "real" issues, he doesn't either: like the hip-hop artists he chides, the author romanticizes activism while appearing clueless about the nuts and bolts of grassroots work. Equally troubling are McWhorter's unsubstantiated theories, chief among them his claim that African-Americans are more inclined to judge a statement by how it sounds than what it communicates. More interested in skewering hip-hop than suggesting paths to substantive social change, this book ultimately frustrates more than it illuminates. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
Praise for Winning the Race Splendid. . . . McWhorter has a keen eye for the foibles of social scientists.” —The Wall Street Journal A provocative challenge to conventional wisdom.” —USA Today
This is a remarkable book because, in its way, it celebrates hip-hop even as it argues against its political significance. McWhorter separates the powerful elements of the music itself from the often mindless political pretensions that surround it. He does what only the best cultural critics can do: he parses and clarifies to show the way beyond the dead-ends that art forms inevitably come to. He wants hip-hop to align with logic and reason. He wants it to grow.” —Shelby Steele, author of The Content of Our Character John McWhorter is one of the few of whom it can be said, ‘He thinks for himself and goes his own way.’ In All About the Beathe takes on all of the exaggerated claims for hip-hop as something more than a long-running and lucrative trend. With absolute clarity, he proves them not to be the claims of airheads but airholes—empty openings in the wall of American popular culture. This book is a short but sharp and substantial rebuttal of the academic hustlers, lightweight rabble-rousers, and camp followers who do not know the difference between smoke and fire. For the good of us all, John McWhorter does.” —Stanley Crouch, author of Considering Geniusand The Artificial White Man Praise for Winning the Race Splendid. . . . McWhorter has a keen eye for the foibles of social scientists.” —The Wall Street Journal A provocative challenge to conventional wisdom.” —USA Today
“This is a remarkable book because, in its way, it celebrates hip-hop even as it argues against its political significance. McWhorter separates the powerful elements of the music itself from the often mindless political pretensions that surround it. He does what only the best cultural critics can do: he parses and clarifies to show the way beyond the dead-ends that art forms inevitably come to. He wants hip-hop to align with logic and reason. He wants it to grow.” —Shelby Steele, author of The Content of Our Character “John McWhorter is one of the few of whom it can be said, ‘He thinks for himself and goes his own way.’ In All About the Beathe takes on all of the exaggerated claims for hip-hop as something more than a long-running and lucrative trend. With absolute clarity, he proves them not to be the claims of airheads but airholes—empty openings in the wall of American popular culture. This book is a short but sharp and substantial rebuttal of the academic hustlers, lightweight rabble-rousers, and camp followers who do not know the difference between smoke and fire. For the good of us all, John McWhorter does.” —Stanley Crouch, author of Considering Geniusand The Artificial White Man Praise for Winning the Race “Splendid. . . . McWhorter has a keen eye for the foibles of social scientists.” — The Wall Street Journal “A provocative challenge to conventional wisdom.” — USA Today
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, April 2008
Boston Globe, June 2008
Los Angeles Times, June 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
The bestselling commentator, hailed for his frank and fearless arguments on race, imparts a scathing look at the hypocrisy of hip-hop—and why its popularity proves that black America must overhaul its politics. One of the most outspoken voices in America’s cultural dialogues, John McWhorter can always be counted on to provide provocative viewpoints steeped in scholarly savvy. Now he turns his formidable intellect to the topic of hip-hop music and culture, smashing the claims that hip-hop is politically valuable because it delivers the only “real” portrayal of black society. In this measured, impassioned work, McWhorter delves into the rhythms of hip-hop, analyzing its content and celebrating its artistry and craftsmanship. But at the same time he points out that hip-hop is, at its core, simply music, and takes issue with those who celebrate hip-hop as the beginning of a new civil rights program and inflate the lyrics with a kind of radical chic. In a power vacuum, this often offensive and destructive music has become a leading voice of black America, and McWhorter stridently calls for a renewed sense of purpose and pride in black communities. Joining the ranks of Russell Simmons and others who have called for a deeper investigation of hip-hop’s role in black culture, McWhorter’s All About the Beatis a spectacular polemic that takes the debate in a seismically new direction.
Main Description
The bestselling commentator, hailed for his frank and fearless arguments on race, imparts a scathing look at the hypocrisy of hip-hop—and why its popularity proves that black America must overhaul its politics. One of the most outspoken voices in America’s cultural dialogues, John McWhorter can always be counted on to provide provocative viewpoints steeped in scholarly savvy. Now he turns his formidable intellect to the topic of hip-hop music and culture, smashing the claims that hip-hop is politically valuable because it delivers the only real” portrayal of black society. In this measured, impassioned work, McWhorter delves into the rhythms of hip-hop, analyzing its content and celebrating its artistry and craftsmanship. But at the same time he points out that hip-hop is, at its core, simply music, and takes issue with those who celebrate hip-hop as the beginning of a new civil rights program and inflate the lyrics with a kind of radical chic. In a power vacuum, this often offensive and destructive music has become a leading voice of black America, and McWhorter stridently calls for a renewed sense of purpose and pride in black communities. Joining the ranks of Russell Simmons and others who have called for a deeper investigation of hip-hop’s role in black culture, McWhorter’s All About the Beatis a spectacular polemic that takes the debate in a seismically new direction.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Move Somethingp. 1
We Keep Showin' You: Is Hip-hop Really About Politics?p. 15
The Words I Manifest: Is Conscious Rap Different?p. 45
Meet Us Up on Capitol Hill: Could There Actually Be a Hip-hop Revolution?p. 83
Ain't Long 'Fore You Get Y'All Acres: How Radical Politics Holds Blacks Backp. 113
Moving Your Body While Sitting in Your Seat: Is Rhythm Truth?p. 143
Final Words: Be a Brilliant Soulp. 169
Acknowledgmentsp. 183
Notesp. 185
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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