I decided I was going to read a book a week for a year, here’s a quick review of this week’s book. You can see the ongoing list here.
The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop–And Why It Matters by Tricia Rose
Why I read it
The community section is right next to the business section in the book store I tend to frequent. I let my eye wander and it connected with this book.
I should probably mention that I was interested in it because I was really into hip hop in highschool; little did I know when I picked it up that I would be a part of what Rose describes as the demographic that helped bring “gangsta rap” to the mainstream.
How it connects to the Public Sector
The book argues that the most commercially successful hip hop has become increasing saturated with images of “gangstas” and that this development is worth paying attention to because any discussion of hip hop doubles as a discussion about race in America.
The book is a deep dive into the reinforcing mechanics between ghetto culture and corporate America that demonstrates just how diverse a single public policy issue can be (e.g. the ghettoization of black America).
What I got out of reading it
Tricia Rose is incredibly thorough in her exploration of the issues – the core lesson for me from reading the book is that there are subject matter experts out there whom will always possess a depth of knowledge that is far greater than the one we have. So if, when making public policy, we forget that, we may stumble; and that stumble may have dire consequences.
Moreover, if we fail to explore the nuance in a particularly difficult situation we may actually exacerbate a problem rather then alleviate it; many prominent hip hop artists today (according to Rose) make precisely this mistake.
As someone who listened to a lot of hip hop when I was “coming up” I would say that this book is incredibly enlightening, if you have even a remote interest in hip hop, the Hip Hop Wars is a must read.