by Steven Hager
Counter-culture visionary Steven Hager travels to the South Bronx in 1980, and takes us with him to show us a street-level view of how Hip-Hop culture began. He interviews and hangs out with all the major players and seminal figures of this embryonic scene that was about to explode. Steven is always way ahead of the curve, often the very first to report on a particular scene, with an unerring, almost mystical sense of where the culture is moving, where it’s been, and where it came from. Steve’s counter-cultural radar picks up blips and ehoes that give him an early warning of seismic events that will later explode on the cultural scene. His ground-breaking books and articles steer clear of pretentious academic theorizing and boring, bullshit analysis, focusing instead on the flesh and blood artists themselves, illuminating the mysterious ways in which our culture is formed. Hager takes you to the streets and into the clubs and art galleries, introduces you to the players, and lets them speak, as they tell us how it all went down.
Hip-Hop, by Steven Hager, is one of the great American history books. If Howard Zinn had written a book about Hip-Hop, it might have turned out something like this. You won’t find any posturing or pontificating in these pages—what you will find is the real story of how Hip-hop originated, and you’ll hear it from the people who made it happen. Steve did the legwork, and he’s got the goods, and he shares all the riches with us in an amazingly concise and entertaining way. We are told of the fiery baptism of hip-hop, as the old buildings crumble and fall, the flames rise, and the armies of the night emerge to roam and pillage through the destruction, as the American dream turns to nightmare.
Hager first sets the scene for us, as he encapsulates the history of that blighted borough, as it is first carved up and butchered by Robert Moses in the 1960’s, and then swiftly descends into a terrifying spiral of gang violence, destruction, and drugs in the late 60’s and ‘70’s. But from this carnage and terror, a great spirit of culture and creativity arises from its ashes, and Hager is on it like nobody’s business, as he chronicles the new art forms that are improvised and invented on the spot, amid the gutted buildings and charred streets.
This book is readable, my friends!
(reviewed the day of purchase)