In his book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang drops it like it’s hot. From MCing to DJing to b-boying to graffiti writing, Chang’s insightful knowledge of hip-hop culture combined with his passion for rap music make this book an important read. For those, including me, who not only love the art, but also want to learn what it was like living in the Bronx – birthplace of hip-hop – during the ’70s, this book will guarantee to supply a vivid reading experience.
The history of hip-hop is intriguing, stirring, and empowering. From the blackout riot on July 13, 1977 to the period when Clive Campbell (DJ Kool Herc) hooked up his father’s powerful system for the first time, the genuineness of Chang’s filmic structure provides readers with clear visual presentation of the subject. Whether he describes a scene of b-boy dancing or graffiti painting, his straightforward approach and natural style allow the images to be accessible.
On a personal level, I praise Chang for staying on point when he delves into the racial issue between Black American and Asian American. On his controversial “Black Korea,” Ice Cube voiced his opinion against Asians, accused the storeowners (Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Cambodian) of trying to take over the hood. Not only on this particular piece but also throughout the book, Chang is recapturing, not recreating, the chronicle of hip-hop through his extensive research and personal interviews.
Although Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is longer than 500 pages, I couldn’t stop once I started to read. Chang’s work has enriched my knowledge on hip-hop, its elements, and its political contents. Hip-hop has made its way into the colleges’ and universities’ curricula. Even a highly selective private institution like Vassar, which is dominated by a Caucasian student body, is embracing hip-hop culture by introducing Hip-hop 101 club. Therefore, I would not be surprised to see this book as part of a required reading list.