BI BOOKSHELF; Reading the Notes for Hip-Hop, Popular Culture

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Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere

By Dr. Gwendolyn D. Pough

Northeastern University Press, June 2004, 256 pages, $50.00 cloth, ISBN 1555536085; $20.00 paper, ISBN 1555536077

In this book, Dr. Gwendolyn D. Pough explores the complex relationship between Black women, hip-hop and feminism. Examining a wide range of genres, including rap music, novels, spoken word poetry, hip-hop cinema and hip-hop soul music, she traces the rhetoric of Black women "bringing wreck." Pough demonstrates how influential women rappers such as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, and Lil' Kim are building on the legacy of earlier generations of women -- from Sojourner Truth to women of the Black power and civil rights movements -- to disrupt and break into the dominant patriarchal public sphere. She discusses the ways in which today's young Black women struggle against the stereotypical language of the past, and shows how rap provides an avenue to tell their own life stories, to construct their identities, and to dismantle historical and contemporary negative representations of Black womanhood.

Dr. Gwendolyn D. Pough is an assistant professor of women's studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Young, Black, Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip-Hop Invasion and the Transformation of American Culture

By Dr. Todd Boyd

Doubleday, October 2003, $22.95, hardcover, ISBN 0-7679-1277-2

In this controversial look at the impact of cutting-edge Black urban culture on contemporary America, Dr. Todd Boyd uses the intertwining worlds of basketball and hip-hop as a powerful metaphor for exploring the larger themes of race, class and identity. Boyd chronicles how basketball and hip-hop have gone from being reviled by the American mainstream to being embraced and imitated globally. For young Black men, he argues, they represent a new version of the American dream, one that embodies the hopes and desires of those excluded from the original version.

Dr. Todd Boyd is a professor of critical studies in the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California.

Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music

By Dr. John McWhorter

Gotham Books, October 2003, 304 pp., $26.00 hardcover, ISBN 1592400167

In this provocative new book, Dr. John McWhorter draws the line when it comes to how cultural change is turning the English language upside down in America today, and how public English is being overwhelmed by street English, with serious consequences for our writing, our music and our society. …