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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Corporations, however, understand that huge profits can be made if they are able to find a white boy (or girl)

who is "down." Whereas urban hiphop has already been racialized to be almost exclusively black and Latino,

rural and Southern hiphop has been in an ambiguous racialized state.



Straight Outta Compton (Priority, 1988)  /  Ghetto Music: The Blueprint Of Hip Hop (Jive, 1989)  /  Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – Soundtrack (2005)  

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50 Cent CDs   Get Rich Or Die Tryin'  /  The Massacre   / Guess Who's Back  / Power of the Dollar

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Books on Rap & Hip Hop

Todd Boyd, The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop (2003) / Sharif Responds to Todd Boyd / Is Hip Hop Really Dead?


Brian Cross, It's Not About a Salary... Rap, Race and Resistance in Los Angeles: Rap, Race, and Resistance in Los Angeles (1993)


Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994)


Russell A. Porter,  Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (1995)


Bakari Kitwana, The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture (2003)


Imani Perry,  Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (2004)

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 The Universality of Hip Hop Beyond the Ghetto

Poor White Boys and the Future of Hiphop

By Charles Chea


Poverty is definitely not restricted to any specific area. But ask a group of youth, or even adults, what "ghetto" means to them and you'll find that most will limit it by race or region. People from or near urban areas may classify inner-city projects and east and west coast black ghettos as the exemplar of poverty in the United States, while people in rural areas will immediately discuss rural representations such as trailers or the "rez" life of Native Americans.

Urban poverty has an advantage, however, in that it is the overwhelmingly represented narrative of mainstream hiphop, while the inclusion of rural and international narratives has only recently become more popular. The saturation of contemporary black urban struggle in hiphop, a music form that has precedence and huge influence in other media markets, persistently overshadows other realities that further disenfranchise urban and rural peoples.

The recent increase of rural and southern narratives may be a hint of greater change in the future for some, but I would assert that the mainstream market will attempt to saturate another face: poor white boys.

The black urban narrative and its stronghold in mainstream hiphop makes it almost impossible for any other story to break through. So why has Eminem been able to take such precedence in mainstream hiphop to be considered one of the top rappers? For one, as a white person, it is often humored that their "realness" needs to take huge strides among blacks.

Many people profess that Eminem proved his realness through a legacy of underground rap battles and unique lyrical wordplay that has often shut down the best of rappers. When we look and listen to underground 'backpack' hiphop, however, complex rhyme scheme and wordplay is nothing unique. Every year, there is a new and upcoming nobody who dominates the battle circuit.

As with everyone else in mainstream hiphop, I would argue that it's a fact of marketability. A few market strategies come to mind when I think about Eminem and the attempt to propagate his realness: entourage of black men, 8 mile and Detroit 's derelict, and trailers. The "entourage of black people" is nothing new for white music artists' who are attempting to enter the urban music market.

This is not evidence of the "rural hi-jacking" I anticipate, but Eminem's association and depiction of 8 Mile is. I am not going to debate its falsehoods and realities in general depiction, but I'd like to emphasize and consider his association to trailers—minor but important. The trailer is a significant out reach to the stereotype of rurality and the movie (as his lyrics) often emphasizes being raised in that environment, not necessarily Detroit.

The suggestion of "country living," in minor and major ways, has also been in affect for other white upcomers being pushed in mainstream markets. Memphis based Lil Wyte, an associate of the Three 6 Mafia, freshmen album and music video, "I Sho Will" has a Southern and suggestively rural backdrop. Nashville raised Haystak has a name associated to rural stereotypes, as well as "Portrait of a White Boy," his most recent release that features a drawing of a farm in the background.

Timbaland-discovered Bubba Sparxx, who hails from a very rural LaGrange, Georgia, often incorporates rural narratives into his lyrics. And of course, there is Northwest Houston's Paul Wall, who has been making moves with Mike Jones into the national mainstream market.

It is too much of a risk for the mainstream market to associate itself with white people from or near urban areas because they are often the predominating representations of middle/upper-class United States, and whose authenticity is often questioned.

Corporations, however, understand that huge profits can be made if they are able to find a white boy (or girl) who is "down." Whereas urban hiphop has already been racialized to be almost exclusively black and Latino, rural and Southern hiphop has been in an ambiguous racialized state.

White poverty is often thought of in the image of the past, such as with the Depression, and other images have continued into contemporary times such as the "hick." Southern accents and country music has often been a major stereotype more prone to whites, and with the rise of Southern hiphop subgenres such as crunk, corporations know that it will be much easier to promote white rappers in this category. Once they tweak the formula for the Southern white rapper, I can only imagine corporations will push it fiercely in hopes of enormous profit. It'll be Elvis again--and again and again.

We need to see the "Elvis formula" in more recent times, however. Native Americans are often participating in hiphop, creating a small but growing scene that offers narratives pertaining to their struggles with a long-standing poverty and representation. Asian Americans are also offering hiphop narratives about their struggles as refugees and immigrants, which is rarely heard in the mainstream but happening in their enclaves.

These voices won't be heard soon because diversity in the United States goes only as far as how much money you can make with it. Instead, the next step of hiphop "diversity" is the inclusion of the poor white boy narrative and if that becomes saturated, it'll make a major and unfortunate impact on the psyche of listeners as to what poverty and struggle is.

Hiphop, I would argue, has greater influence in the consciousness of general listeners than what is learned from school—which is not to say that schools in the United States don't need revamping either. We should be careful to not look at the inclusion of poor white rappers as a revolution in the name of diversity and acceptance, but question its intention among corporations.  

Charles Chea is a Sociology student at UMass-Boston who is originally from Philadelphia. -  

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011


#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. Members of both groups also helped to redefine the legal meaning and political practices of American citizenship. For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 18 March 2012




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