Quoted: Jeff Chang on Hip-Hop

by Latoya Peterson

What you hold in your hands in not another book about rap music. This is about hip-hop.

To most people, hip-hop signifies rap. And perhaps well it should, for since the art of party-rocking was transferred in the form of 1979’s “Rapper’s Delight” to a twelve-inch piece of black polyvinyl chloride, born literally of salt and oil, then distilled further from fifteen minutes of rhymes to a three-minute pop song – in other words, a portable commodity that could leverage hundreds more valuable commodities, the salt and oil of the new global entertainment – hip-hop has been an inescapable fact.

But rap’s pop dominance has eclipsed hip-hop’s true importance. In particular, it has hidden the way that hip-hop has become one of the most far reaching and transformative arts movements of the past two decades. From condemned farmland barns in South Carolina to flashy post-modern boutiques in Shibuya, from brick-and-stone alleyways to the bright lights of Broadway, in airy suburban bedrooms crowded with the stuff of urban detritus and overheated inner-city schoolrooms set abuzz with the noise of personal journals, in front of white laptops, in black-box theatres and red-light districts, hip-hop has set the imagination of a generation afire. I don’t say this to make a “look how we’ve grown up” bid for acceptance, an “it’s more respectable than you think” apology, or even a “you better recognize” boast puffed full of triumphalism.

Again, it’s just simple fact.

—Introduction, Hip-Hop Arts: Our Expanding Universe, from Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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