Books & Beats
The Cultural Kinship of Street Lit and Hip Hop
Books and Beats: The Cultural Kinship of Street Lit and Hip Hop is a literary culture project that considers how Street Lit and Hip Hop are cultural cousins that symbiotically catapulted black expressive youth culture into America’s consciousness at the turn of the twenty-first century. I contend that Street Lit is the missing pillar of Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip Hop culture definition and has played a critical role in Hip Hop’s global ascension. As such, Books and Beats illustrates how contemporary African American urban fiction translated Hip Hop’s most intrinsic stories from wax to print. My book chapters consider how Street Lit and Hip Hop music production have mirrored each other through self-publishing and independent music labels, sampling previous black literary and musical forms, rebuffing censorship in music and literature, and serializing novels and remixing hit records. In my exploration of understudied linkages in contemporary popular culture, I purposefully elevate how and where women of color are situated by interrogating their depictions and portrayals in music and print, as well as their positions in Street Lit publishing and the Hip Hop music industry. My focus on Street Lit, Hip Hop, and the socio-historical conditions that created both moves Books and Beats beyond a series of close readings and textual analyses to an interdisciplinary examination of an expressive culture that has forever changed the American cultural landscape. While most African American literature at the turn of century was invested in reclaiming an Afrocentric past or envisioning new Afro-futures, Street Lit focused on politically rearticulating blackness in the present for a Hip Hop audience.