Black Studies, Rap, and the Academy

Houston A. Baker, Jr., Author University of Chicago Press $21 (117p) ISBN 978-0-226-03520-8
This brief, sometimes digressive essay exhorts those who teach Black Studies to take rap music seriously. Baker, director of the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in a mix of postmodern lit-crit lingo and street slang. He sketches the growth of Black Studies from the ferment of the 1960s to its ``forceful, scholarly citizenship in the American university,'' then looks closely at rap controversies. He ``reads'' the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger case, observing that commentators ignored how the lyrics to the rap song ``Wild Thing'' were misheard into the fear-word ``wilding.'' He reproaches critics of bawdy rappers 2 Live Crew for thin analysis, and for arguing--contra free-speech advocates--that the group's album As Nasty As They Wanna Be ``was understandably banned.'' Reporting how his students have tagged rap and MTV the ``poetry for the next society,'' Baker argues sensibly for further analysis of rap, but his claim that ``rap is now classical black sound'' is a bit overstated. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/14/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
Paperback - 117 pages - 978-0-226-03521-5
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