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Hip Hop America

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  460 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
From the award-winning author of The Death of Rhythm and Blues comes Hip Hop America, the history of hip hop from its roots in the late 1970s to its emergence as the cultural force that today influences everything from movies to fashion, advertising to sports. It's the story of a society-altering collision between black youth culture and the mass media -- and it's very big ...more
Paperback, 226 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published April 26th 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 969)
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May 23, 2011 Kinga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
I always have a hard time trying to review non-fiction books and this could easily turn into my personal musings about hip hop and what it meant to be growing up in post communist Poland listening to hip hop. Being born in 1982 in still communist Poland I missed out on the beginnings of movement but joined happily as soon as I could.
Nelson George’s book fills the gaps for me – whoever heard of DJ Hollywood? – about how it all started.

The book sounds more like a sentimental journey through the hi
Apr 28, 2015 Sabina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nelson George is a good writer, but this book just didn't do it for me. It's a bit disorganized, far lengthier/more long-winded than necessary, and not particularly well backed-up. He doesn't mention a whole lot of others' opinions/analysis beside his own, and so much of what he mentions is based in memories and traveling in certain social circles. I found myself skimming a lot because I felt like I could still get his message while skimming--I usually don't feel that way with nonfiction or memo ...more
Aug 26, 2011 Osvaldo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nelson George's Hip Hop America doesn't seem aptly titled. I think it needs some other title to go along with a proper sub-title along the lines of "Collected Reflections of a Hip-Hop Journalist" (or something like that).

It is not as if George is not more than qualified to provide a look back on hip-hop, it is just that with a title like Hip Hop America, I was hoping for something a little deeper - something that examined hip-hop's role in American culture, its echoes and contradictions. ..

I mi
matt. singer.
Nov 03, 2007 matt. singer. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writer Nelson George was born in rap’s cradle of civilization — Brooklyn, N.Y. — and came of age as a journalist just as the first emcees, DJs, breakers and graffiti artists began crawling out of the primordial soup — in this case, the parks, rec centers and block parties across the five boroughs circa the mid-1970s. He’s been charting their evolution ever since. "Hip Hop America" is not a simple linear history, though. It’s an examination of hip-hop as an ongoing sociological phenomenon. When t ...more
May 14, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A seemingly extensive and well-informed history of hip-hop as both a genre and a cultural movement. Draws heavily on information learned from prior interviews and from George's own anecdotes.
Jan 28, 2008 Melzanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-and-art
i believe that hip hop is a brilliant, post-dada, inner-city collage of the available; meaning: these doods made a sound out of scratched records and vocal beatboxes. my biggest pet peeve is when people complain that hip hop artists didn't/don't (for the most part--many do) play their own instruments. fuck instruments! these visionaries too what they had: their sense of rhythm, their voice, their beat record collects, and formed a whole new genre that would change music. while the current state ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Nataya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hip Hop America was an amazing book, it had insight from the past and how it affects us today and in the future. Besides the cover "HIp Hop America" its not all about the dance Hip Hop. The book circles around african american history, and then what later became Hip Hop. Nelson George tells stories from the past and how it affected african american culture. As Nelson George puts it "Hip Hop is a spawn of many things, but most profoundly,it is a product of a schizophrenic, post-civil rights movem ...more
Jun 14, 2008 Charmayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great look at the historically significant hip hop movement that simultaneously shaped the youth culture. Urban music had a message that could be heard by people outside of the city, suddenly making a racial minority powerfully influential. This book looks not only at the music but also the art, fashion, and language that evolved with this genre. While I think the author chose to tackle too many topics - making the book feel like it skips around a bit - I enjoyed the information I learned none ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Good book but there's 18 years worth missing by now.
Dec 08, 2007 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hip hop fans, cultureophiles
I originally read this book for a class and it has become one of my favorite non-fiction books. George follows the evolution of hip hop in america from the street corners of brooklyn and the bronx, through the founding of death row records. All the strife and competition is put in context with the greater African American culture revolution in America. If you have any interest in hip hop, or culture in america this book is a must read.
Jun 09, 2009 Lady rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid book from a writer who was there from the beginning - George first wrote about hip-hop when covering a Kool Herk park concert in 1982. There's also a lot of George's personal musings on the music, the business, and the interplay with politics and culture. I prefer Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, but this is a great adjunct.
Leo Jacobowitz
An easy brief read on an interesting topic. George chronicles, rather accurately it seems, the early days of hip hop, focusing primarily on New York City, notably Harlem and the Bronx. This was one of the first books written on the topic by an industry authority. I imagine now much more has been written.
Aug 16, 2012 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although it's been a healthy spread of years since I dove into the contents of this hip hop literature it's service and influence were grand. Credit goes to this particular body of text for delivering me toward a path of hip hop literature and hip hop related scholarship.
Dan B
Jul 23, 2012 Dan B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad book at all, and a great intro into rap history, but the author is clearly biased and sometimes I think he just kind of runs off his opinion without source. While he seems to be a prominent figure, a source is a source...
Apr 06, 2010 mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you are into hip hop, a great book, even though a little dated at this point... but that can be kind of fun in a way. george has a real ease of style, super conversation & obviously very passionate about the subject.
Oct 10, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great introduction to the history of hip hop and how it has permeated mainstream American culture. You don't need a huge body of knowledge to get something out of this text and it avoids being overly academic.
Feb 21, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great overview of the different elements of hip hop, though more anecdotal than definitive. Which is probably what I loved most; it was just him talking about what he loves.
I think the books going to be about a man who talks about hip hop or tells about the history of it in the book. I also think the man wants to become a hip hop artist.
Kevin Coaker
Excellent in the early chapters when depicting hip-hop's Bronx birth. But ultimately this is just a collection of essays, although some very good.
Sep 23, 2008 Lanaya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading if you are interested in the history of hip hop. Quick and easy read. Not much dept. I plan to keep it in my collection.
Jun 15, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well-written and brought hip-hop and all its aspects to life. I was interested in it and I don't even listen to rap.
Mar 17, 2008 C.E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good look at hip-hop, it origins and its place in culture. Good mix of the anecdotal and the scholarly.
Feb 24, 2008 Mk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me frame HipHop, for the first time, as a cultural and political force in the US.
Jul 30, 2008 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative read for my first college writing class ...
Jun 14, 2010 Colin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
eh... I wish it was written like, 3 years after it was written.
Bill Shannon
Hip hop for beginners. Half polemic, half fanboy hagiography.
Bobby Dixon
May 29, 2013 Bobby Dixon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely my favorite work from Nelson George
Paras Ghelani
Aug 10, 2011 Paras Ghelani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very readable history and cultural study
can't remember much about this book
Chris Landry
Mar 24, 2012 Chris Landry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rough stuff.
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Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, television producer, and critic with a long career in analyzing and presenting the diverse elements of African-American culture.

Queen Latifah won the Golden Globe for playing the lead in his directorial debut, the HBO movie 'Life Support'. The critically acclaimed drama looked at the effects of HIV on a troubled black family in his native Brooklyn, New York.
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