JEFF CHANG’s first book was the award-winning Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and was named by The Utne Reader one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” Chang has written extensively for The Guardian, Slate, The Nation, The New York Times, The SF Chronicle, The Beliver, Mother Jones, Slaon and more. He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.
WE GON' BE ALRIGHT
Notes on Race and Resegregation
Picador – September 13, 2016
Known first as a critic/journalist of hiphop music and culture—his Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (2005) won the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award—Chang expanded his purview in 2014’s Who We Be: The Colorization of America to consider larger issues of social history and multiculturalism in America. Here, he wonders why we keep talking about diversity even as society is resegregating both racially and economically, considers how culture influences politics, and looks at the return of student protest today.
Praise for WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT
“Chang creates a chain-linked manifesto arguing for an end to racially charged violence and discrimination and urging global open-mindedness to the struggle of the oppressed. Intended as a written response to the Ferguson, Missouri, riots, the book also offers moving observations of those months of unrest and palpably captures the charged atmosphere on the streets and the history-making heft of the protests. Readers seeking remedies to racial discord will instead find a multifaceted history lesson coupled with troubling updates on recent urban upsets within the author’s interconnected discourse. With his galvanizing message, Chang reiterates that while there is much work to be done on the inequality front, the opportunity to “get it right” has not passed us by. He implores readers to listen, act, and become involved with today’s activists, who offer “new ways to see our past and our present.” A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations.“—Kirkus, starred review
“Jeff Chang’s We Gon’ Be Alright is an astonishing and thorough account of how decades of struggle and protest have led us to Ferguson, to Black Lives Matter, to questions of equity and diversity, and to a country that is more segregated than ever. In the midst of our tense racial debates, this book is required reading. We would do well to heed its lessons.“—Michael Eric Dyson
“There is history and analysis in these pages, and there is life and experience, too, but neither form of storytelling overpowers the other. Instead, what comes through most clearly is a versatile mind in the service of a painful and protracted story, an author who ranges widely before drawing tough conclusions and one who, despite the book’s optimistic title, appears deeply pessimistic about things getting any better, much less becoming all right…The limits of representation come alive in the author’s unforgettable discussion of the Asian American experience.“—The Washington Post
“In the song that inspired the author’s title, Kendrick Lamar repeatedly asks his listeners, ‘Do you feel me?’ Chang’s text, in essence, poses the same question. Enriched and stimulated as much by his passion as his ideas, I’m pleased to answer with a resounding yes.“—Jabari Asim, Bookforum
“[Carries] the conversation about race in America right into 2016. Each essay is both critically sharp and deeply affecting—both heavy with statistics and rich with evocative descriptions.“—East Bay Express
“Incredible! It’s a small book, but it packs a big punch.“—BookRiot
“When it comes to navigating the minefields of race—its myths and material consequences, its currents and contradictions—Jeff Chang is a maestro. With eloquence and urgency, We Gon’ Be Alright reveals a country whose deepening racial oppression and inequality is shrouded by myths of colorblindness and postracial triumphalism.“—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
“There is no more fitting writer to chronicle an unprecedented moment in American history than Jeff Chang. We Gon’ Be Alrightis a seminal work about now, about who we are and who we are becoming.”—Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder and CEO of Define American
“Chang’s prose is disarming, provocative, and sure to inspire further thought and research.“—Booklist
“If you are struggling to understand the perspective of young people of color on your campus who are demanding change, if you want to ground your understanding of this cultural and political moment in a longer view of ‘diversity’ in America, if you wonder (secretly or out loud) why diversity matters, if you want to understand why diversity is not enough without inclusion and equity, if you want to engage your colleagues and students in nuanced conversations about race in America, you should consider reading […] this book.“—The Chronicle of Higher Education
WHO WE BE
The Colorization of America
St. Martin’s Press – October 21, 2014
Race. A four-letter word. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today.
During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope—another four-letter word—is still plunged into endless culture wars.
How do Americans see race now? How has that changed—and not changed—over the half-century? After eras framed by words like “multicultural” and “post-racial,” do we see each other any more clearly?
Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.
Praise for WHO WE BE
NAACP Image Award Finalist for Outstanding Literary Work
Finalist for 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize
New York Times Editor’s Choice
Ray & Pat Browne Award for Best Work in Pop Culture and American Culture
Books for a Better Life Award Finalist
Northern California Book Award Finalist
“Jeff Chang writes with necessary fire about the things that matter. ‘Who We Be’ is a compassionate, clear-eyed book, an exciting contribution to the history of our present moment. I know of no better account of the glories and sorrows of contemporary American diversity, nor any so attuned to the outsized role that art has played in that journey.“—Teju Cole, author of Open City
“With Who We Be Jeff Chang has emerged as a premier chronicler of the broad and unruly narrative of American culture. His characteristically deft prose, broad perspective and incisive observations make this is an essential chronicle of the past three decades of American cultural history. Who We Be is a brilliant brief on who we’ve been all along.“—Jelani Cobb
“In 2005, Jeff Chang wrote the Hip Hop book none of us saw coming, but all of us wished we’d written. Many of us spent a decade trying to catch up. In 2014, Jeff has done it again. Who We Be smashes assumptions of postracialism and multiculturalism into hundreds of prickly pieces, and Jeff is daring enough to historicize each of those pieces, while tell us what they mean about us. Who We Be is a book that cradles the personal, communal, institutional and structural while ultimately showing us how to rebuild each with a bit more honesty and integrity. This is the book we’ve been waiting for, and of course, it’s written by Jeff Chang.“—Kiese Laymon
“Who We Be confirms the singular brilliance of Jeff Chang, and provides a powerful breakdown of the way culture precedes and predicts politics. Here is the story of us, from the bottom up, the top down, and side-to-side—an astoundingly astute collage of forgotten battles brought to light and watershed events made new by Chang’s analysis. Is he Romare Bearden reborn as a cultural historian? The hip hop generation’s Tom Wolfe-before-he-became-an-asshole? I don’t know, but Who We Be is essential reading—not this season or this year, but until the audacity of post-racism kicks in. Which won’t be happening anytime soon.“—Adam Mansbach, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Rage is Back and Go the Fuck to Sleep
The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
Basic Civitas Books – January 8, 2007
Hip-hop is one of the most important art movements of the past two decades, having moved beyond rap music to transform theater, dance, performance, poetry, literature, fashion, design, photography, painting, and film.
American Book Award-winning journalist Jeff Chang, author of the acclaimed Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, presents an incisive look at hip-hop arts through the voices of its pioneers, innovators, and mavericks. With an introductory survey essay by Chang, the anthology includes:
• Greg Tate, Mark Anthony Neal, Brian “B+” Cross, and Vijay Prashad on hip-hop aesthetics in the wake of multiculturalism.
• Actor and playwright Danny Hoch’s hip-hop arts manifesto
• Joan Morgan and Mark Anthony Neal discussing gender relations in hip-hop.
• Danyel Smith and Adam Mansbach on hip-hop literature
• Rock Steady Crew b-boy-turned-celebrated visual artist DOZEon the uses and limits of a “hip-hop” identity.
• PEN Award-winning writer Raquel Cepeda on “the flash of the spirit” in hip-hop arts
• Pioneer dancer POPMASTER FABEL’s history of hip-hop dance, and acclaimed choreographer Rennie Harris on hip-hop’s transformation of global dance theatre.
• Bill Adler’s history of hip-hop photography, including photos by Glen E. Friedman, Janette Beckman, and Joe Conzo.
• Poetry and prose from Amde Hamilton of the Watts Prophets, Staceyann Chin, Suheir Hammad, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Kevin Coval.
Praise for TOTAL CHAOS
“Total Chaos is Jeff Chang at his best: fierce and unwavering in his commitment to document the hip-hop explosion. In beginning to define a hip-hop aesthetic, this gathering of artists, pioneers, and thinkers illuminates the special truth that hip-hop speaks to youth around the globe.“—Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip-Hop Generation
“What is historicized here sheds light on hip-hop’s chaotic but rooted journey.“—Library Journal
“In this wide-ranging, academic anthology of essays, interviews and panel discussions, 2005 American Book Award–winner Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop) presents hip-hop’s past, present and future as seen by some of its founding figures, guiding lights, journalists and scholars.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jeff Chang, whose Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is nothing less than the finest rap history extant, envisions a future in which the four hip-hop ‘elements‘—MC’ing, DJ’ing, B-Boying, graffiti—generate a polycultural, transnational, sampled-and-bricolaged vanguard in theater, dance, poetry, fiction, painting, and design. Uncommonly inspired anthology… readable and provocative.“—Robert Christgau, Rolling Stone
CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP
A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
St. Martin’s Press – January 27, 2005
Winner of the American Book Award
Includes an introduction by DJ Kool Herc
Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation’s worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style.
Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop’s forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation’s rise from the ashes of the 60’s into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.
Praise for CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP
#8 on the 100 Greatest Music Books of All Time by Billboard Magazine
“His scope is operatic, sprawling, and concerns itself with the people, places, and politics that drove hip-hop from its infancy. . . . It is essentially a people’s history . . . perhaps Jeff Chang is hip-hop America’s Howard Zinn.“—Salon.com
“The birth of hip-hop out of the ruin of the South Bronx is a story that has been told many times, but never with the cinematic scope and the analytic force that Jeff Chang brings to it. . . . This is one of the most urgent and passionate histories of popular music ever written.“—The New Yorker
“When Hip-Hop 101 becomes a requirement, Jeff Chang’s history of the turmoil that begat this beloved culture will be the go-to textbook.“—Vibe
“The most important new genre of the last quarter century finally has a sweeping historical overview as powerful as the music with Can’t Stop Won’t Stop . . . the best-argued, most thoroughly researched case for hip-hop as a complete and truly American culture.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Chang tells these stories beautifully . . . provocative.“—The New York Times Book Review
“Jeff Chang’s new and necessary book . . . delivers a vivid account of the last third of the American twentieth century. . . The book is as much a cultural history as a music history.“—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“This is a book that should be on the shelves of every high school and college library, an engaging and entertaining full-blown excursion into American inner-city culture’s rapid proliferation into every nook and cranny of culture at large.“—Los Angeles Weekly
“Flow without the ego, intellectualism without Ivory Tower disdain, and, finally, history with heart and passion and fire: Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop manages to go from wide-lens overview to pinpoint accuracy in covering the biggest cultural-political movement of our time. A true accomplishment.“—Farai Chideya, author of Trust and The Color of Our Future
“Jeff Chang is a master alchemist, spinning narrative gold from a weave of sociology, history, political theory, and old fashioned boom-bap. . . Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is one of the best books yet written on the shifting, tumultuous history of hip-hop culture and the generation of adherents it spat onto the American and global landscape. It is a tour-de-force.“—Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, author of Gunshots In My Cook-Up: Bits of Hip-Hop Caribbean Life
“An exuberant and revelatory history of the inner-city cultural revolution that still rocks the world. Jeff Chang is hip-hop’s John Reed.“—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums
“One of our most insightful commentators on urban music takes a panoramic survey of hip-hop’s entirety. . . Authoritative, incisive, and entertaining, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is a massive achievement.“—Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-84 and Generation Ecstasy
“Don’t be misled; this is not just another rap book. . . inflammatory, illuminating, and anything but myopic, the scope of Chang’s work is awe-inspiring.“—DJ Shadow, hip-hop artist, Endtroducing and The Private Press
“This book belongs on your shelf next to Criminal Minded, Illmatic and All Eyez On Me.“—William Jelani Cobb, Ph.D, author of To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic
“Orale pues-Can’t Stop Won’t Stop draws from the fire, verve, rage, injustices, pains, victories, and creativity of a whole generation of marginalized, forgotten, pissed-on and pissed-off youth.“—Luis J. Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA and Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times
“Jeff Chang backspins the uninterrogated truisms that plague so much hip hop scholarship. . . Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is a fluid, incisive analysis built from the ground up, with plenty of funky breakdowns.“—Adam Mansbach, author of The End of the Jews
“Has any scholar ever loved hip hop so well-and taken it as seriously-as Jeff Chang does in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop?“—Bill Adler, author of Tougher Than Leather
“From the intellectual roots of Black cultural and political movements to the emergence of hip-hop activism, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is the most comprehensive book out on hip-hop.“—Henry Chalfant, co-producer of Style Wars, co-author of Subway Art and Spraycan Art
“Can’t Stop Won’t Stop brings us so much closer to fully understanding the complexities that inspired the Hip-Hop Generation.“—Mark Anthony Neal, author of Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation
“Jeff Chang has created a new rhythm in hip-hop writing. A must-read and an instant classic.“—B+ (Brian Cross), photographer, producer/director of Keepintime, and author of It’s Not About A Salary