New York Time's Bestselling Author
Gotham Books, June 2008
One of the most outspoken voices in America's cultural dialogues, John McWhorter can always be counted on to provide provocative viewpoints steeped in scholarly savvy. Now he turns his formidable intellect to the topic of hip-hop music and culture, smashing the claims that hip-hop is politically valuable because it delivers the only "real" portrayal of black society.
In this measured, impassioned work, McWhorter delves into the rhythms of hip-hop, analyzing its content and celebrating its artistry and craftsmanship. But at the same time he points out that hip-hop is, at its core, simply music, and takes issue with those who celebrate hip-hop as the beginning of a new civil rights revolution and inflate the lyrics with a kind of radical chic. In a power vacuum, this often offensive and destructive music has become a leading voice of black America, and McWhorter stridently calls for a renewed sense of purpose and pride in black communities.
Joining the ranks of Russell Simmons and others who have called for a deeper investigation of hip-hop's role in black culture, McWhorter's All About the Beat is a spectacular polemic that takes the debate in a seismically new direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John McWhorter is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Race and Ethnicity. His acclaimed books include the New York Times bestseller Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America and, most recently, Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America, which earned him an NAACP Image Award nomination, and Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Why We Should, Like, Care. He is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, weekly columnist for The New York Sun and a contributor at TheRoot.com. He has appeared numerous national TV and radio shows, such as Meet the Press, John McLaughlin's One on One, the O'Reilly Factor and is a frequent contributor for National Public Radio. McWhorter is also a well-known and widely published linguistics scholar. He lives in New York.
"John McWhorter is one of the few of whom it can be said, 'He thinks
for himself and goes his own way. In All About the Beat, he takes
on all of the exaggerated claims for hip-hop as something more than a
long-running and lucrative trend. With absolute clarity, he proves them
not to be the claims of airheads but air-holes, empty openings in the
wall of American popular culture. This book is a short but sharp and substantial
rebuttal of the academic hustlers, lightweight rabble rousers, and camp
followers who do not know the difference between smoke and fire. For the
good of us all, John McWhorter does."
"This is a remarkable book because, in its way, it celebrates hip-hop even as it
argues against its political significance. McWhorter separates the powerful elements of
the music itself from the often mindless political pretensions that surround it. He does
what only the best cultural critics can do: he parses and clarifies to show the way beyond
the dead-ends that art forms inevitably come to. He wants hip-hop to align with logic and
reason. He wants it to grow."