Hip: The History

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Harper Collins, Oct 5, 2004 - History - 405 pages
2 Reviews

How an underground idea shaped American culture, from sex and music to race, fashion, drugs, commerce and the national rites of rebellion.

Hip: The History is the story of an American obsession. Derived from the Wolof word hepi or hipi ("to see," or "to open one's eyes"), which came to America with West African Slaves, hip is the dance between black and white -- or insider and outsider -- that gives America its unique flavor and rhythm. It has created fortunes, destroyed lives and shaped the way millions of us talk, dress, dance, make love or see ourselves in the mirror. Everyone knows what hip is.

This is the story of how we got here. Hip: The History draws the connections between Walt Whitman and Richard Hell, or Raymond Chandler and Snoop Dogg. It slinks among the pimps, hustlers, outlaws, junkies, scoundrels, white negroes, Beats, geeks, beboppers and other hipsters who crash the American experiment, and without whom we might all be listening to show tunes.

Along the way, Hip: The History looks at hip's quest for authenticity, which binds millions of us together in a paradoxical desire to be different. Because, as George Clinton said, "You can't fake the funk."

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Leland is entertaining - or maybe it's just that he manages to touch on so many of my favorite heroes and cultural movements. I lived through the 50s and 60s and I'm still struggling for perspective, which the book is all about - both perspective and the struggle to achieve it. Also, this is a true history, a reference book. The notes section is one indication of the depth of the research behind it.  

Review: Hip: The History

User Review  - Audrey - Goodreads

This was a fun read, it combined my interest of social history and my: constant wondering of "How the hell did X ever become popular." Read full review

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About the author (2004)

John Leland is a reporter for the New York Times and former editor in chief of Details, and he was an original columnist at SPIN magazine. Robert Christgau of the Village Voice called him "the best American postmod critic (the best new American rock critic period)," and Chuck D of Public Enemy said the nasty parts of the song "Bring the Noise" were written about him. He lives in Manhattan's East Village with his wife, Risa, and son, Jordan.

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