Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Hip-Hop History

St. Martin’s/Wednesday Bks. Mar. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250790514.
Gr 8 Up–The 2005 adult edition of Chang’s sweeping overview of hip-hop history garnered several accolades, including an American Book Award. Due to its intended audience, this young adult adaptation is shorter than the original work. An author’s note at the beginning indicates that some potentially offensive language has been removed. Part music history and part social history, the text is divided into four “loops,” which highlight the performers of the spotlighted time period and the historical events that coincided with the music. Hip-hop aficionados will appreciate the first loop, which covers 1969–1982. Chang pays tribute to lesser-known artists who set the foundation for the genre and contemporary performers such as Notorious B.I.G. and LL Cool J. He also devotes equal time to groundbreaking all-female groups, such as Mercedes Ladies. The well-intentioned desire to include information about every possible performer makes the text sometimes difficult to read, with some paragraphs and pages serving as a laundry list of names. Chang establishes a clear link between hip-hop and its role in protesting racial injustice in the past (i.e. the Rodney King beating) and in the context of current events, such as the death of George Floyd.
VERDICT This young adult nonfiction title will be enjoyed primarily by avid hip-hop fans who want to understand the origins of the genre.

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