YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Page 2 / News, Trends, Gossip and Stuff to Do | Book

Hip-Hop Hoopla



Remember that? Back in the day when that was known as the shout that got the most attention. With emcees on the mike, deejays on the ol' ones and twos (and those would be turntables), hip-hop was read its last rites by the music establishment 20 (yes, 20!) years ago.

"Novelty music. . . . Nonsense!" some puffed. "Noise," vetoed others. But that deep bass backbeat and the stories and samples that tumble across it have become much more than a music industry marketing category; hip-hop has moved in and fully furnished American culture--seeping out of everything from Walkman headphones to boutique clothing store speakers, influencing everything from television commercials to runway fashion.

Now it's "thugz and Gs." But way back in '79 when the Sugar Hill Gang's "hotel / motel / Holiday Inn" chorus got the dance floor giggling as people grooved in "Rapper's Delight," journalist and culture critic Nelson George was filing college stories about hip-hop's fledgling years. Later monitoring its metamorphosis in columns in Billboard and the Village Voice, George, author of eight nonfiction books on African American culture, has now carefully digested hip-hop's fruition, transformation and ultimate takeover in his latest book, "Hip Hop America" (Viking).

In the kind of assessment that only someone who has ridden so close to the moment-turned-movement can give, George proudly attests that his Motown 45s and his 12-inch rap singles are prized possessions in his vinyl collection.

Writes George: "Hip-hop is not my life, but it has been a large part of it. There have been times I've loved it more than any woman. There have been times that I hated it with the viciousness usually reserved for a cheating lover. Today, just past 40, I have affection for it, but my love wavers sometimes, as if the culture was a woman I loved long ago, now can barely remember why, yet still can't forget."


Los Angeles Times Articles