- The Plot Against Hip Hop by Nelson George
For over thirty years, Nelson George, in his role as journalist, cultural critic, filmmaker, and producer, has documented African American popular culture for the masses. Though not a trained historian, his in-depth analyses have offered panoramic shots of American life, during particular times and places, as experienced by African Americans through some of their cultural production. As one who grew up and came of age at the height and end of one story (soul) and has lived through the development and expansion of another story (hip hop), most of his reporting has covered African American cultural life through its transition from Civil Rights Movement-Black Power Movement-soul-independent black-owned record companies-industrialized economy-hope to a deindustrialized economy-massive suburbanization-corporate takeover of black music-hopelessness-hip hop.1 It is within this personal and social context that George created such notable works as The Michael Jackson Story (1984), The Death of Rhythm & Blues (1988), Buppies, B-boys, Baps & Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture (1992), CB4 (1993), Hip Hop America (1998), and the American Gangster television series (2007). Continuing with this creative trajectory, George’s most recent literary work, The Plot Against Hip Hop, uses hip hop as a discursive space to view a slice of American life, but this time instead of a real life chronicle, he pinned a fictional murder mystery.
The Plot Against Hip Hop follows the story of hip hop security specialist, D Hunter, as he spends months searching for the murder motive and murderers of his slain friend, journalist and cultural critic Dwayne Robinson. D’s investigation takes readers on a journey where they are exposed to hip hop history, suspense, conspiracy theories, romance, introspection, and a cast of characters all connected to hip hop and the murder. Readers are beckoned to question the veracity and authenticity of hip hop culture from its “Golden Age” (1984–1992) to its present hold on the American populace.2 Was hip hop, from this age on, something that spread organically through the efforts of marginalized urban youth and a consumer base hungry for counter-narratives or was the culture co-opted by corporate and government operatives seeking to control and manipulate hip hop and its participants?
D stepped into the role of detective when on one dark night he found Dwayne Robinson at the front door of his security office—slumped over, bludgeoned, and bloodied. Immediately D attempted to cover the gash on Dwayne’s neck that spewed out blood, but it was too late, he had already lost too much blood. A few seconds later Dwayne died in D’s arms mumbling “It was all a dream” (12). Shocked and dismayed, D began to think about the preceding moments: why would someone want to kill his friend with a box cutter, why in SoHo, and what did Dwayne’s last words mean? D found the initial police investigation unsettling and illogical; consequently he made it his personal mission to solve the case. [End Page 822]
In The Plot Against Hip Hop George weaved back and forth between the hip hop’s “Golden Age” and present day hip hop—reminiscing, name-dropping, connecting characters, and suggesting clues in the process. During his investigation, D found out that Dwayne was writing a book titled the “The Plot Against Hip Hop,” a tell-all book exposing the persons involved in planning hip hop’s exponential growth and destruction. Since Dwayne had covered hip hop since its early days, he knew much of its history and the people involved in the story. The reader finds that Dwayne’s skills as a writer and intimate knowledge of hip hop could have played an essential role in this supposed scheme to control and manipulate hip hop; hence, his expose` would incriminate many persons. Here, George through his protagonist D, offers a sharp analysis of what happens when folk culture mixes with capitalism—greed, corporate control, mass consumption, surveillance, competition, dirty cops, and murder.
George made his protagonist more than a hip hop...