Perkins, a faculty fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois House at the University of Pennsylvania, has assembled a collection of essays about rap music and hip hop culture. He provides an introductory history of rap, followed by articles about the pioneering contributions of female and Latino American rappers. Essays dealing with the political and economic contexts of rap?gangsta rap, rap with a message, and the racism inherent in rap's crossover to white America?form the second part of the book. The third section features articles about hip hop culture, especially breakdancing and the use of public space for performance, and ends with an epilog by the editor. Though sometimes overly academic and ranging in quality from the workmanlike introduction to the excellent essay on message rap, Droppin' Science provides a revealing look at an important part of African American culture in the 1990s. It serves as a welcome addition to the growing legion of books and articles on the topic. Recommended to those interested in modern music and culture.?David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Rap is one of the most salient music genres of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Gangsta rap, in particular, with its focus on urban street life, has become a dominant means of expression within contemporary African American adolescent culture. As such, it speaks directly to issues of identity, culture, violence, and nihilism—themes that permeate recent research on inner-city black communities. Mostly ethnographic in nature, this work describes how structural disadvantage, social isolation, and despair create a black youth culture, or street code, that influences adolescent behavior. The current work builds on the community literature by exploring how the street code is present not only on “the street” but also in rap music. It addresses two important questions: (1) To what extent does rap music contain elements of the street code—and particularly nihilism—identified by Anderson (1999) and others? (2) How do rappers experience and interpret their lives, and how do they respond to conditions in their communities? These questions are explored in a content analysis of over four hundred songs on rap albums from 1992 to 2000.