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Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  164 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Our national conversation about race is ludicrously out-of-date. Hip-hop is the key to understanding how things are changing. In a provocative book that will appeal to hip-hoppers both black and white and their parents, Bakari Kitwana deftly teases apart the culture of hip-hop to illuminate how race is being lived by young Americans. This topic is ripe, but untried, and Ki
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Civitas Books (first published 2005)
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Natalie S.
I had such high expectations for this book, and I walked away so, so disappointed. My primary complaint: Kitwana doesn't spend much time talking about why white kids love hip-hop. She establishes that white kids do, indeed, love hip-hop; she discusses the methods by which white society popularized hip-hop; she speculates about the future of politics because white kids love hip-hop. But her discussion regarding the reasons white kids seek out, listen to, and engage with hip-hop and hip-hop cultur ...more
Jun 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
This book has some interesting points but mostly it is a black guy talking about how the white man is trying to steal his culture. If you try to filter out all the bull about that then you can find he has some decent points. I went into this book open minded but came out feeling like I wasted my time. He tries to make excuses for all the problems in the black society. You might want to read this if you would like a black person's perspective of hip-hop when concerning white people, but it is pro ...more
Graeme Hinde
Aug 18, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
I wasn't feeling Henry James tonight, so I picked this book up and read the first 60 pages. Here is the typically vapid sentence that made me cast it to the pit with a groan:

"This tendency to go against convention and go beyond the expected has long been a part of hip-hop's history, and most certainly is a characteristic of many white kids who love hip-hop."
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any book that tried to give concrete answers to a premise as subjective as "Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop" would be open to ridicule. But the author, a former editor of "hip-hop Bible" The Source, takes a more intelligent approach than that. He even casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that hip-hop's primary audience is white. He concludes that if white kids - who are increasingly disenfranchised - really are engaging in huge numbers with an art form perpetrated by oppressed blacks, then hip- ...more
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Bakari Kitwana was, at one point, a writer for The Source. As others have pointed out before me, this book is not solely about white kids and hip-hop. Rather this book is a collection of Kitwana's essays around hip hop in popular culture today and the implications of its influence.

To answer the question of the title, white kids love hip-hop, in Kitwana's opinion, because they have moved beyond the racial definitions of their parents. Their world is more multi-cultural than those that have come
Let's say three and a half stars.

I appreciated Bakari Kitwana's approach in this book, and his attempt to have an open approach to the possible positive meaning of the involvement of white kids in hip hop culture and their love of hip hop music, while remaining historically grounded in the realities of cultural appropriation, and unjust economic compensation in the music business.

I even appreciated his attempt to rehabilitate the role of Eminem to some degree (even if I think Eminem is vastly ov
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspective on race relations in the United States as viewed through our popular culture. I am not really comfortable with many of his assertions, which seem at best wildly optimistic and pie in the sky with little substance. While some of what he discusses is occurring, as far as Ive read it fails to really reflect a true and full view of the idiosyncrasies with race and the younger generation. In other words, his general assertion of hip hop being a civil rights "kumbaya" moment fa ...more
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hip-hop
So this is not the greatest book. The early stuff didn't do much of anything. It seemed like most of the observations were building towards this moment where he would talk about "the new racial politics." So then I get to the end of the book, and it's not there. So I'm not sure I buy the entire premise of this book, that hip-hop is realizing a new racial politics. However, there is a little bit of good stuff at the end on not letting the hip-hop block get coopted, and how it needs to exert press ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what I expected. But it was more than what I got.
I have been to one or two of Bakari Kitwana's forums here in NYC.
That may have been the reason why I had higher expectations.
I live in NY. I've always had friends of different backgrounds. People's reasons for loving hip hop (or music in general) are different. Or the same. But mostly, music moves you and resonates in a way nothing else can. Even if you cannot relate to the lyrics.
He had a whole chapter dedicated to Eminem. But never
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected a more searing analysis of white kids who are into hip-hop when I started this book, but was pleasantly surprised to see Kitwana take a broader, more generous approach to this topic. While he does take the reader through the history of hip-hop and highlights the various ways white record executives and artists have attempted to hijack the genre, he also asserts that this is a multiracial movement that has room for more than just black folks. I gave it four stars because he gets fairly ...more
Ambitiously, this book raises quite a few questions about the role of hip-hop in youth culture, race and identity politics, and American popular culture. While his writing is intelligent and accessible, Kitwana falls short in answering the questions he poses. Too much of the book is him disproving statistics that aren't that relevant to his argument to begin with or presenting anecdotal evidence that's not always convincing. Most of all, it seems his discussion of the music itself gets lost bene ...more
Dec 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, White hip-hop heads
Shelves: non-fiction, hip-hop
Kitwana challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes about White kids and hip-hop. Unfortunately, because very little useful data exists, his argument relies heavily on anecdotal evidence. As a result, Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop weakens notions of a White fandom based purely on exoticism, opens potentially fruitful avenues for future investigation, but cannot answer the question implied by its title.

Deserving of least an afternoon's attention for anyone studying teenagers, hip-hop, and race, K
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hip-hop
Is there a 'new reality of race in America'? I'm not convinced, although that Barack Obama is not Jesse Jackson is pretty self-evident. It would be nice if hip hop's appeal to white kids spread to create a politics in the USA that actually gave a shit about cities, that was ready to end the war on drugs and get some harm reduction going, that was ready to talk reparations... but first of all... fat chance. go check out that documentary called 'black out.' second of all, if voting really changed ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a smidgen of a mention of all the MARIJUANA that brought these races in hip-hop culture together in the first place! I like how the author capitalizes the word "Blacks" but not whites. Just another opinion on this never-ending race issue. This book is from 2005, and It's not the white (sober) rapper Eminem the author should focus on anymore. It's this fucking thing called dubstep. (Oh and he misspelled Adidas on page 97)
There is a lot of really important information here, and Kitwana is a great writer. I learned a lot, and entered a lot of great discussion as a result of this book. And there are no real complaints... some of it was written a bit like a textbook, which is not the most engaging. All in all, good book though, and worth the read.
Courtney E. Smith
Not amazing writing. The author takes a lot of disparate concepts and tries to mesh them into a cohesive whole, but it reads like a series of separate articles with no overall tie. Also the focus remains very urban, never getting into the large population of suburban and rural white kids who are influenced by hip hop.
Jul 20, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Angela Recommendation
Vishe Redmond
Hip Hop Feminist bookshelf. This book represents my early years with non fiction.
Rosalind Wiseman
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
An essential read for anyone trying to understand the role of hip/hop in youth culture, and an excellent companion to "Can't Stop, Won't Stop."
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“Wigger: a young white who wants desperately to be down with hip-hop, who identifies more strongly with Black culture than white. (What's disturbing about this expression is its racist implications: if white kids down with hip-hop are "wiggers," what does that make Black kids down with hip-hop?)” 2 likes
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