Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop

ISBN13: 9780822334460
Release Date: November 30th 2004
Published by: Duke University Press Books
Pages: 248

At once the most lucrative, popular, and culturally oppositional musical force in the United States, hip hop demands the kind of interpretation Imani Perry provides here: criticism engaged with this vibrant musical form on its own terms. A scholar and a fan, Perry considers the art, politics, and culture of hip hop through an analysis of song lyrics, the words of the prophets of the hood. Recognizing prevailing characterizations of hip hop as a transnational musical form, Perry advances a powerful argument that hip hop is first and foremost black American music. At the same time, she contends that many studies have shortchanged the aesthetic value of rap by attributing its form and content primarily to socioeconomic factors. Her innovative analysis revels in the artistry of hip hop, revealing it as an art of innovation, not deprivation.Perry offers detailed readings of the lyrics of many hip hop artists, including Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul, krs-One, OutKast, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Tupac Shakur, Lil’ Kim, Biggie Smalls, Nas, Method Man, and Lauryn Hill. She focuses on the cultural foundations of the music and on the form and narrative features of the songs—the call and response, the reliance on the break, the use of metaphor, and the recurring figures of the trickster and the outlaw. Perry also provides complex considerations of hip hop’s association with crime, violence, and misogyny. She shows that while its message may be disconcerting, rap often expresses brilliant insights about existence in a society mired in difficult racial and gender politics. Hip hop, she suggests, airs a much wider, more troubling range of black experience than was projected during the civil rights era. It provides a unique public space where the sacred and the profane impulses within African American culture unite.

More work like this

Book Conversation on May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem
Imani Perry, Kinohi Nishikawa
Conversations with Maya Angelou
Claudia Tate
The Difficult Miracle: The Living Legacy of June Jordan
Imani Perry
Reimagining Science and Technology
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Ruha Benjamin

Upcoming Events

Film Screening 'Uptight' (1968)
Apr 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
Race & Housing 50 Years Later: The Legacy of the Fair Housing Act
Apr 28, 2018
Film Screening and Discussion ‘Cruel and Unusual - the Story of the Angola 3’ (2017)
May 2, 2018 @ 5:00 pm
Corey Robin & Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on 'The Reactionary Mind'
May 3, 2018 @ 6:00 pm
Princeton Research Day
May 10, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
AAS Reunions Mixer
Jun 1, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm

African American Studies for the 21st Century

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University
  1. 'The Making of the Modern Black Diaspora' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Joshua Guild 35:17
  2. 'The Pulse of Black Life in the Long 19th Century' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Autumn Womack 30:42
  3. 'Rethinking Empire and Democracy' Reena N. Goldthree, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 44:49
  4. 'The Formation of Religio-Racial Identity' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld 47:32
  5. 'What Was African American Marriage?' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Tera Hunter 44:59
  6. 'Before Cornel West, After Cornel West' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Cornel West 52:46
  7. 'An Insistence on Not Being Discouraged' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chika Okeke-Agulu 55:19
  8. 'A Through Line for African American Studies' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry 44:07
  9. 'Activism and Risk in the Face of Trump' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Asanni York, Destiny Crockett 43:02
  10. 'Langston Hughes, Religious Thinker' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Wallace Best 45:50
  11. 'Convergences and Dissonance' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Naomi Murakawa, & Imani Perry 60:08