In It's Bigger Than Hip Hop, M. K. Asante, Jr. looks at the rise of a generation that sees beyond the smoke and mirrors of corporate-manufactured hip hop and is building a movement that will change not only the face of pop culture, but the world.
Asante, a young firebrand poet, professor, filmmaker, and activist who represents this movement, uses hip hop as a springboard for a larger discussion about the urgent social and political issues affecting the post-hip-hop generation, a new wave of youth searching for an understanding of itself outside the self-destructive, corporate hip-hop monopoly.
Through insightful anecdotes, scholarship, personal encounters, and conversations with youth across the globe as well as icons such as Chuck D and Maya Angelou, Asante illuminates a shift that can be felt in the crowded spoken-word joints in post-Katrina New Orleans, seen in the rise of youth-led organizations committed to social justice, and heard around the world chanting "It's bigger than hip hop."
As the title suggests, poet Asante (creative writing, Morgan State Univ.; Beautiful. And Ugly Too) looks at hip-hop as not just a type of music but a cultural force. He envisions hip-hop-a phrase probably derived, he notes, from the African Wolof word hipi, to open one's eyes and see, and an Old English word that means to spring into action-being used as a tool for social change. Hip-hop started in the poor, urban African American community of the Bronx, NY, in the 1970s and was rooted in social activism. Asante argues that contemporary mainstream hip-hop does not adequately address the issues of the black community and that artists (or "artivists") who deal with real social issues (e.g., poverty, drugs, police brutality) are censored by the larger corporations that control and own the distribution of music. Asante expertly blends historical information about hip-hop and the civil rights movement with personal narrative, interviews with artists, and quotations from civil rights leaders and classic poetry to create an original and daring work. This well-researched book is recommended for public and academic libraries.