Other People's Property
A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America
by Jason Tanz
"A penetrating journey through the semiotics of pigmentation, and a hilarious, self-deprecating look by a white man at whiteness in a black-dominated genre."
Henry Chalfant, co-director of Style Wars
"[A] thoughtful and often insightful work of long-form journalism."
"Unfailingly empathetic... Hip-hop's transformative capacity is the book's most powerful theme."
|An eye-opening look at race and identity in our country today, Other People's Property blends memoir, history, cultural analysis, and on-the ground reportage to explore hip-hop's decades-long journey through white America.
Ever since it first came barreling out of the South Bronx a quarter-century ago, hip-hop has been seen as a primarily black expression, a unique forum to discuss the hopes, dreams, fears, and trials of African American life. So it is ironic that hip-hop has grown to become our national soundtrack, bringing us a world in which Snoop Dogg shills for Chrysler and Three 6 Mafia's paean to pimps wins an Academy Award. In his examination of hip-hop's white audience, Jason Tanza hip-hop-loving white boy who grew up in the suburbs of the Pacific Northwestsees a generation struggling with its identity and wrestling, often unsuccessfully, with the legacy of race.
Other People's Property provides a one-of-a-kind look at how hip-hop is lived far from the inner cities that birthed and sustain it: from "nerdocre" rappers, who rhyme about Star Wars conventions and computer code; to a group of would-be gangstas in a neighborhood so insulated it's nicknamed "the bubble"; to a breakdancing class at an upper-crusty dance academy in New Canaan, Connecticut; to a pop-rap station in melanin-challenged Green Bay, Wisconsin. Tanz interviews dozens of fans, artists, producers, and promoters, including some of hip-hop's most legendary figuresPublic Enemy's Chuck D, white rapper MC Serch, and former Yo! MTV Raps host Fab 5 Freddy, among many others.
Drawing on his own experience as a white fan as well as his in-depth knowledge of hip-hop's history, Tanz gives us a hard-edged, thought-provoking, and humorous snapshot of the particularly American intersection of race, commcerce, culture, and identity.
Jason Tanz's work has appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Spin, and Time Out New York, among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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