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The New H.N.I.C.

The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop

Todd Boyd

Publication Year: 2002

When Lauryn Hill stepped forward to accept her fifth Grammy Award in 1999, she paused as she collected the last trophy, and seeming somewhat startled said, “This is crazy, ‘cause this is hip hop music.’“ Hill’s astonishment at receiving mainstream acclaim for music once deemed insignificant testifies to the explosion of this truly revolutionary art form. Hip hop music and the culture that surrounds it—film, fashion, sports, and a whole way of being—has become the defining ethos for a generation. Its influence has spread from the state’s capital to the nation’s capital, from the Pineapple to the Big Apple, from ‘Frisco to Maine, and then on to Spain.

But moving far beyond the music, hip hop has emerged as a social and cultural movement, displacing the ideas of the Civil Rights era. Todd Boyd maintains that a new generation, having grown up in the aftermath of both Civil Rights and Black Power, rejects these old school models and is instead asserting its own values and ideas. Hip hop is distinguished in this regard because it never attempted to go mainstream, but instead the mainstream came to hip hop.

The New H.N.I.C., like hip hop itself, attempts to keep it real, and challenges conventional wisdom on a range of issues, from debates over use of the “N-word,” the comedy of Chris Rock, and the “get money” ethos of hip hop moguls like Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons, to hip hop’s impact on a diverse array of figures from Bill Clinton and Eminem to Jennifer Lopez.

Maintaining that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is less important today than DMX's It's Dark and Hell is Hot, Boyd argues that Civil Rights as a cultural force is dead, confined to a series of media images frozen in another time. Hip hop, on the other hand, represents the vanguard, and is the best way to grasp both our present and future.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. v

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Preface: Game Recognize Game

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pp. ix-xxii

I wish I was a rapper. There are certainly times when I wish I could just drop an album and channel all my ideas, anger, humor, and energy into some music and be done with it. Though I do spit game out of my own platinum mouthpiece like a rapper, I also write books. In doing so, I have always tried to bring a certain energy to my writing; a hip hop energy, if you will. I am also a competitor and I love the competitive nature of both ...

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Who We Be: Introducin’ the New H.N.I.C.

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pp. 1-23

Some may remember a popular Coke commercial from the mid 1990s that featured an interesting parallel between two distinct generations of Black people. As the commercial began, an older Black man, sitting back in his chair, listening to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sing their Motown classic “You’re All I Need to Get By.” This tune was written by the noted husband-and-wife team of Nick Ashford and ...

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1 No Time for Fake Niggas: Hip Hop, from Private to Public

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pp. 24-43

As long as I can remember, my father and several of his friends would get together on Saturday morning for a lively breakfast. Over the years the restaurant locations have changed constantly, and the participants have tended to come and go, depending on what was happening in people’s personal lives at a given time. What was constant was the intense conversations that would take place around the ...

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2. Brothas Gonna Work It Out: Hip Hop’s Ongoing Search for the Real

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pp. 44-60

What is the difference between rap and hip hop? I have been asked that question far too many times by those not hip to the game. When I was growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s, rap was what the few of us who listened to the music called it. At some point in the early 1990s, around the same time that MC Hammer was beginning to embarrass all of those who had originally embraced his “James Brown ...

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3. Can’t Knock the Hustle: Hip Hop and the Cult of Playa Hatin’

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pp. 61-101

One of the most compelling television moments in recent memory is the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill Senate confirmation hearings of 1991. The precursor to what is commonly called “Reality TV,” Thomas/Hill would whet our appetite for that ultimate blockbuster, the O.J. Simpson trial, which would come a few years later. The sweeping epic that developed around O.J., of course, would eclipse all other television ...

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4. Head Nigga in Charge: Slick Willie, Slim Shady, and the Return of the “White Negro”

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pp. 102-137

William Jefferson Clinton, a gentleman more affectionately known as “Slick Willie,” a true hip hop moniker if ever there was one, was simply an aspiring presidential candidate from Hope, Arkansas, when he stepped on the bandstand of The Arsenio Hall Show in the spring of 1992 and made history. Sitting in with the band that evening, Clinton, donning dark sunglasses, picked up his “ax” and started riffing ...

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Epilogue: Where's the Love?

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pp. 139-152

I can remember vividly the first time I heard “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. A couple of my boys had come by to scoop me up and when I got in that 1977 Ford Granada that day, all they could talk about was this new song they had heard on the radio. The problem was they couldn’t really describe the tune. They didn’t know the name of the song, nor did they know who it was by. They just kept ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 153-154

Glossary of Hip Hop Terms

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pp. 155-157

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Shout Outs

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pp. 159-160

Yes yes y’all. Once again it’s on. Time to show love to those who in one way or another offered support, inspiration, and assistance in helping me finish another book. ... Peace to Ed Boyd, the man who put the ‘g’ in game, and who taught me how to stand strong and stand firm on this thing of ours. Peace to Mozelle Boyd, who ...


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pp. 161-168

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About the Author

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p. 169

A frequent media commentator, Todd Boyd is a professor of Critical Studies in the USC School of Cinema-Television. His books include Am I Black Enough For You? ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814709061
E-ISBN-10: 0814709060
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814798959
Print-ISBN-10: 0814798950

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 58844915
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The New H.N.I.C.

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African American youth -- Political activity.
  • Hip-hop.
  • African American youth -- Social life and customs.
  • African American youth -- Social conditions.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights.
  • African Americans -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Social conditions -- 1975-.
  • United States -- Social life and customs -- 1971-.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1980-.
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