Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present

Mark Costello, Author, David Foster Wallace, With Ecco Press $8.95 (140p) ISBN 978-0-88001-255-3
Based primarily on the authors' experiences hanging out with the owners of a small rap music production company, the first part of this long essay on understanding rap describes the setting in which this subversive music has arisen--the urban ghetto, in this case, the North Dorchester section of Boston. We get a vivid picture of rap's real-life context in an area of poverty, drugs and various types of radical activity, an environment closed to upscale whites by the barriers of fear and oppression. The music similarly remains for whites, assert the authors, ``like little more than looking at something venomous in a tightly closed jar.'' Much of the book is devoted to a critical explication and validation of rap, including literary and historical analysis, placing it, for instance, in the context of African oral tradition. But away from the stark truths of reportage, the authors--Costello is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan; Wallace wrote the novel The Broom of the System --often get mired in theoretical hyperbole and digression. They claim to be the first whites to appreciate its political radicalness and artistic value, calling rap ``quite possibly the most important stuff happening in American poetry today.'' (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1990
Release date: 08/01/1990
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-5119-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-40111-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-5116-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-5118-6
Paperback - 153 pages - 978-0-316-22583-0
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