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Monday, June 18, 2007

Mr. Crouch is at it again......and I Love it! Preach!

More words of wisdom (which the above video also demonstrates) from the great social critic and columnist, courtesy of the NY Daily News:

Books reveal true hip hop, chapter & verse



Monday, June 18th 2007, 4:00 AM


The serpent curling in the box of trends, sentimentality, self-righteousness and bad taste that we recognize as the most adolescent side of popular culture, has been taking a number of blows, spears and stompings over the past few months. For many, this seems unfair. To call hip hop a serpent seems a bit extreme. They feel that hip hop is being battered because it has become the scapegoat for a level of violence, glamorization of criminal behavior, crude materialism and misogyny that was in place long before hip was invented.

Fine. It is true that exploitation of sex and violence has existed in popular culture for many years but that does not change the fact that what is wrong in hip hop is being recognized, and people are finally stepping forward to call out those things that they find degrading and tasteless. Hip hop's defenders always say that there is a much greater variety of styles to the idiom than its critics acknowledge.

I have seen three new books that should be looked at by anyone interested in the degree of precise, imprecise and naive thought brought to the matter or that avoids the facts of the matter. Tayannah Lee McQuillar's "When Rap Music Had a Conscience" is a perfect example of precision, confusion and extraordinary intellectual laziness. "Pimps Up, Ho's Down" by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting is much more intellectually rigorous but gets caught in academic language and feminist cliches. "Beats, Rhymes, & Life: What We Love And Hate About Hip Hop" is an anthology edited by Kenji Jasper and Ytasha Womack that spans the gamut from extremely clear criticism and analysis to some of the looniest excuses I have ever read given for anything.

The problem with McQuillar's work is that while she is critical of the thug extremes and the prison values that mislead too many young black people, she provides a chapter, "The Sacred Scrolls," that is overladen with Afrocentric claptrap and shoddy propaganda presented as if it is real scholarship.

Sharpley-Whiting's book does not suffer from the sort of cowardice one too often hears from black academics who genuflect to hip hop in order to stay current with the tastes of the students who provide them with whatever power they have on college campuses. Sharpley-Whiting calls them as she sees them and wisely quotes the offensive material when necessary. Her book is high level in its research and its thought, and those looking for adult ideas about the subject should look it up.

The anthology is quite good because it contains very insightful pieces, interviews with rappers in which they unknowingly damn themselves, and essays so crazy, like "A Christmas Story," that they add new definition to the word insane.

All in all, however, we are seeing something rising up from the ground and moving through the bling and the smoke machines to ask only that we Americans recognize what is happening to our young people and understand that part of the reason it exists is that popular culture at large has far too frequently substituted sensation, pornography and shock for the mysteries and the grandeur of human feeling. In that sense, for all of its violent minstrelsy, the worst of hip hop is just following the pack.

**And just so it's clear....here at Afronerd, we are hip hop fans. We are anti-minstrel, anti-gangsta, anti-misogyny and anti-commercial hip hop. Nuff said!

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