Avoiding the easy definitions and caricatures that tend to celebrate or condemn the hip hop generation, Hip Hop Matters focuses on fierce and far-reaching battles being waged in politics, pop culture, and academe to assert control over the movement. At stake, Watkins argues, is the impact hip hop has on the lives of the young people who live and breathe the culture. He presents incisive analysis of the corporate takeover of hip hop and the rampant misogyny that undermines the movement's progressive claims. Ultimately, we see how hip hop struggles reverberate in the larger world: global media consolidation; racial and demographic flux; generational cleavages; the reinvention of the pop music industry; and the ongoing struggle to enrich the lives of ordinary youth.
Watkins wisely chooses to focus on what has not been said . . . and] tells his version of hip-hop's history in lyrical prose, often mirroring the rhythms and wordplay of the music he's discussing. This is undoubtedly a book for fans, but it is also an intriguing look at how hip-hop has become part of a universal cultural conversation. --Publishers Weekly
Offering a fast-moving and well-researched book, Watkins successfully unearths some of the disturbing and encouraging implications of hip-hop culture. --Library Journal
Quite an exposition of all things hip-hop. --Mike Tribby, Booklist
S. Craig Watkins is associate professor of radio-TV-film, sociology, and African American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. He lives in Austin, Texas.