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Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  93 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
At once the most lucrative, popular, and culturally oppositional musical force in the United States, hip hop demands the kind of interpretation Imani Perry provides here: criticism engaged with this vibrant musical form on its own terms. A scholar and a fan, Perry considers the art, politics, and culture of hip hop through an analysis of song lyrics, the words of the proph ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Duke University Press Books (first published November 2004)
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Crystal Belle
Apr 16, 2012 Crystal Belle rated it liked it
Shelves: grad-school
The second half of the book was much better than the first, with interesting analysis of mainstream and underground hip-hop songs. I did enjoy the writing that focused on the ideological framework of hip-hop music and culture and its connection to race, class and gender. My issue with this book is that some of the lyrics were misquoted! If you are a hip-hop head, you will see what I'm talking about. Lastly, it really annoyed me that Perry spends 35 pages explaining why hip-hop is a "black Americ ...more
Natalie S.
Feb 09, 2013 Natalie S. rated it it was amazing
In Prophets of the Hood, Imani Perry discusses critiques of hip hop--the music, the artists, the culture. The project of the book is similar to Tricia Rose's The Hip Hop Wars, but I felt Imani Perry took a more nuanced approach by closely examining hip hop's history and composition. Both eventually reach the same conclusions: hip hop is not inherently problematic, but the current conditions of media consumption drive its violence/misogyny/racism.

A few things make this book particularly excellent
Adam Azeris
Dec 12, 2013 Adam Azeris rated it really liked it
Great piece of writing on the politics of Hip Hop. Dr. Perry has put together extraordinary insights on Hip Hop as it relates to originality, identity, narrative within the music. She covers song structure & composition, the nuances therein. She touches on feminism's place in Hip Hop, as well as the effects of co-optation and globalization of the muscial form.

In the final chapter she states that many of her friends urged her to finish & publish this piece quickly, since they thought "Hi
Theon Hill
Imani Perry powerfully unpacks the particulars of hip-hop music in a well-researched, yet accessible manner. She discusses issues such as capitalism, culture, gender, colonialism, and race as they relate to the emergence and evolution of hip-hop. While her work celebrates the achievements of hip-hop as a protest genre, she offers critical assessments of hypocritical aspects of the genre, including the hypersexualized images of women that frequently dominate contemporary music videos. Perhaps the ...more
Craig Amason
May 12, 2015 Craig Amason rated it liked it
Imani Perry gives true academic treatment to a subject that many readers would not consider worthy, and she does so admirably with careful and thoughtful analysis. I do think there are moments when she gives a little too much credit to the deeper intentions of the creators of Rap and Hip Hop songs, and she tries just a bit too hard to convince us that there is some justifiable explanation for the prevailing misogyny and objectification of women in the lyrics of these genres. Her final chapter on ...more
Mar 02, 2007 Mickey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-studies, music
One of the best books on hip-hop I've read: tells you everything you need to know in order to understand the cipher. (music/urban studies; 250 pages)
Vanessa FM
Sep 22, 2009 Vanessa FM rated it did not like it
This was an okay book. It didn't really grab my attention and to be honest, I just skimmed the last pages (never a good sign).
Apr 02, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it
I heard the author speak at a conference at U Penn. She has a real pulse on the history and current state of hip hop.
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Imani Perry, a professor of African American studies at Princeton, first appeared in print at age 3 in the Birmingham (Alabama) News in a photo of her and her parents at a protest against police brutality. She has published widely on topics ranging from racial inequality to hip-hop and is active across various media. She earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a ...more
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“...While many who have debated the image of female sexuality have put "explicit" and "self-objectifying" on one side and "respectable" and "covered-up" on the other, I find this a flawed means of categorization. [...] There is a creative possibility for liberatory explicitness because it may expand the confines of what women are allowed to say and do. We just need to refer to the history of blues music—one full of raunchy, irreverent, and transgressive women artists— for examples. Yet the overwhelming prevalence of the Madonna/whore dichotomy in American culture means that any woman who uses explicit language or images in her creative expression is in danger of being symbolically cast into the role of whore regardless of what liberatory intentions she may have.” 1 likes
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