Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason

By Derrick Darby; Tommie Shelby | Go to book overview

Foreword

This pioneering and provocative book connects philosophy as a way of life to contemporary black creative forms of meaning and feeling. Philo-sophia (love of wisdom) was established in the West by Plato's world-historical enactment of the Socratic literary genre—a genre of cross-examination and artistic depiction that wrestles with the universal issues of life and death, joy and sorrow, justice and injustice, courage and cowardice, love and heartbreak. Plato's magnificent invention was indebted to the mimes of Sophron and his son Xenarchus and the comedies of Aristophanes—both poetic forms that portrayed the realities and lives of ordinary men and women. Plato's fundamental aims were threefold—to immortalize the thoughts and deeds of his mentor Socrates after his earth-shaking death, to dislodge poetry as the paramount authority for wisdom with philosophy, and to put forward a desirable way of life for achieving order for the soul and society in a world of irrational passions and pervasive ignorance.

Hip-hop music was created by talented black urban youth in the United States that fused New World African musical forms and rhetorical styles with new postmodern technologies. Like the spirituals, blues, and jazz—the greatest art forms to emerge from the U.S.A.—hip-hop music expressed and enacted Socratic parrhesia (bold, frank, and plain speech in the face of conventional morality and entrenched power). The basic aims of hip-hop music are threefold—to provide playful entertainment and serious art for the rituals of young people, to forge new ways of escaping social misery, and to explore novel responses for meaning and feeling in a market-driven world.

This rich collection of essays—edited by the visionaries Derrick Darby and Tommie Shelby—brings together the work of academic philosophers of all colors on the most influential cultural phenomena in the entertainment industry on the globe. This courageous effort requires not only that one know much across disciplines but also dig deep into African American life and culture.

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