This project grew out late night conversations with my colleagues Ayoka Chenzira and Beverly Guy-Sheftall on Goree Island that summer. I'm thankful to them for our meandering and contentious discussions of “their” music and “my” music (with the implicit understanding that it was really all our music). I am also thankful to the UNCF-Mellon Faculty Seminars for funding my participation in the seminar, on Pan-Africanist Aesthetics. Particular thanks go to Rudolph Byrd, Cynthia Spence, Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Manthia Diawara. This project also undoubtedly benefited from the attention my editor Eric Zinner at NYU Press who pushed me to develop the central themes of the book.
There are three individuals without whom this book would have been nearly impossible: Thomas Breeze, who engaged me in hours of conversation about hip hop as it is, was, and should be; Talib Shabazz, whose insight is reflected in my writing on the “Old Schools” of the music and whose friendship I've valued since the days of fat laces and pinstripe Lees; and Kamasi Hill, who lent his perspective (as well as his books and music) and listened to endless stream-of-consciousness riffs as ideas came to me on the subject. I hope this book is reflective of the quality of their thinking.
In the South, people have a way of saying “I appreciate you” as a more meaningful replacement for “thank you.” In that regard, I appreciate my own clan, Mary Cobb, Valerie Foster, Nandi Ayeesha Wright, Tymel Bester, Billy, Terrence and Natasha Foster, Naomi Parker, Ann Adams, Joanne Townsend Gaines, Wellington Hansberry Rev. Frank Cobb, Charles and Carla Worthy, Chante Roger, Anthony Pratt, Kim Johnson, James (Spike) Johnson, Michael McButts, and Vanessa and James Holmes.
Kristy R. Holley encouraged this project literally five minutes after its conception—at a point when a simple “that's a good idea, you