Hip: The History
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Tracks the arc of ideas as they move from subterranean bohemia to Madison Avenue and back, and examines how hip helped shape America's view of itself.
liberties, like gay acceptance and the multiracial embrace of hip-hop culture. In most cities in America, there are places where a pierced, tattooed couple of different races and the same sex can walk into a room without drawing a second glance. To dismiss this as merely a stylization of rebellion, just because the couple isn’t really rebelling against anything, is to believe that the essence of liberty lies in the battle, not in the enjoyment of it. The fact that commerce and mass media made it
is hip? superficial reflections on america [T]he Negro looks at the white man and finds it difficult to believe that the “grays”—a Negro term for white people—can be so absurdly self-deluded over the true interrelatedness of blackness and whiteness. —RALPH ELLISON The Oakland soul group Tower of Power asked the question in a 1973 song called “What Is Hip?” The band had a reputation as wordsmiths, inventing terms like honkypox, for listeners who could not get on the good foot. But on the
following year. He was 47. The writers were as openly flawed in their personal lives as in their art, placing themselves not above criticism but beneath its pretensions. Ginsberg followed his mother into psychiatric confinement—“always trying to justify ma’s madness,” as Kerouac put it, “against the logical, sober but hateful society.” Both Kerouac and Burroughs abandoned their children. Burroughs vandalized his own texts, wielding scissors against his intentions; this from a man—a writer—who
contradictions in the national silence on race. Dick Gregory, who called his life story Nigger: An Autobiography, dedicated the book to his mother, writing, “Wherever you are, if you ever hear the word ‘nigger’ again, remember they are advertising my book.” The meaning changes not merely with context or inflection, but according to who is speaking, hearing or overhearing, and who is profiting. The word nigger on a blank page is deafening but impenetrable. It could signal love, hate or anything in
special. Miles sized her up. “Well, I’ve changed music five or six times,” he said. “Now tell me, what have you done of any importance other than be white?” Abrasive and compact, the remark was classic Miles: a slip of truth-telling in an envelope of talking shit. The truth was that he had changed music several times, often for the worse, but that his profile grew more from the skins he sloughed off than the new ones he took on. It took a special man to turn his back on Kind of Blue. Baptized in