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Can't Stop Won't Stop

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Not just another publicist-approved hip-hop encyclopedia, music writer Jeff Chang’s sprawling collection of well-researched chronological essays smartly preserves and politicizes three decades of cultural history. Striking a fine balance between journalistic flair and academic gravitas, Chang explores the South Bronx gang wars, exposes the Sugarhill Gang as a ”sham…no-name group using partly stolen rhymes,” and revisits Public Enemy’s public implosion, among other nuggets. While the book is New York-centric, it does wax poetic about Ice Cube’s cutthroat Death Certificate and L.A.’s emotional landscape pre-and post-Rodney King. Though a riff on globalization and activism seems more reflective of Chang’s political agenda than the hip-hop generation’s, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop remains vibrant, relevant, and vital.