Tricia Rose author of the acclaimed book Black Noise returns to the subject of her landmark text in The Hip Hop Wars. Rose surveys the landscape of contemporary Hiphop and related issues and offers a refreshing perspective.
For those who have been sleep the past few years Rose provides an overview of the debates centered around Black youth culture and Hiphop. These discussions are divided into sections of the book labeled, Hip Hop Critics and Hip Hop Defenders. In these areas Rose offers a summary of some of the more popular critiques of Hiphop and how its defenders have responded. In chapter 4, for example, Rose deals with the attack that Hiphop is destroying America’s values.
Those who profess fear that American values are under assault owing to the negative influence of rap music, are part of a much larger movement to align morality with conservative values – a movement that involves crafting a very short list of values (about which there has never been any unanimous agreement in U.S society) and defining them narrowly. (p. 96)
Rose offers insightful analysis that exposes many of the attacks on Hiphop as both hyperbolic and systematic attacks based on more than the surface morality claims, and linked to other reasons for policing Black youth. While challenging these attacks she also is keen at not letting Hiphop defenders off the hook. While the depth and perspective of Hiphop defenders are not all the same, Rose provides constructive criticism and analysis. “Because hip hop relies on the reality of life in the hood. . . many hip hop artists project a certain image. . . As we have seen rappers own credibility rests on convincing their fans that they are telling the truths in their rhymes” (p. 189). She goes on to point out that while media artists and celebrities should not be judged on role model status, their standing with the fans and high public profile have an influence and impact on their target markets.
In addition to the above Rose concludes the book with solutions! These solutions come in the form of ideas, names of progressive organizations and artists. While there may be disagreement with some of the progressive groups mentioned, the book does provide an alternative to the limited perception that all is lost with Hiphop.