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Lyrical Swords: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix

Posted Aug 6 2006

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Banjoko gives a critical, yet honest critique of hip hop's role in society and unlike most "hip hop journalists" he writes from a first-person perspective. Essentially, the book has three main sections. The first is a collection of essays dealing directly with hip hop. Among other things, he breaks down the meaning of the "pimp" image and its destructive impact on young people. It was one of the better critiques I've heard and I've actually incorporated it into my high school Ethnic Studies courses. The second section deals with martial arts, including Brazilian jiu jitsu. Finally, he spends a significant amount of time dealing with Islam and Eastern philosophy. Banjoko ends the book with an essay titled "Contemplations of a B-Boy" that nicely ties things together. A nice feature of this book is that as it is a series of essays, you can read it in chunks and take time to contemplate his words. Furthermore, he's a fluid writer and doesn't get caught up in dry, academic styles of writing. Banjoko sets the pace for others and hopefully we'll see other authors come with this level of honesty.

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