All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America
John McWhorter – Author
Available June 2008
Hip-hop is often extolled as an urgent “political” message to mainstream America about the realities of life in black communities. But is there really any meaningful connection between hip-hop and politics? Could there actually be a hip-hop revolution?
In All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America, bestselling author John McWhorter argues that the vast majority of hip-hop music—despite claims to the contrary—has nothing real or significant to offer black America in terms of political activism that can make a meaningful difference.
In this measured, impassioned work, McWhorter maintains that hip-hop, while infectious and finely-crafted music, is overly inflated with a sense of social and political importance. He argues that activism and acting up aren’t the same thing, that hip-hop politics often amount to an upturned middle finger—which is different from really working on how to help people. “A hundred years from now, what will interest people about us today is how we solved our problems, not how eloquently we complained about what caused them,” writes McWhorter.
All About the Beat is not about putting hip-hop down for the violence and misogyny it extols. Instead, McWhorter calls for a new politics for black America, one not based on the false hope that a form of music—no matter how good or inspiring— can lead blacks to advancement.