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  • Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinityin the Hip-Hop Generation, and: From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism
  • Eve Dunbar (bio)
Hopkinson, Natalie and Moore, Natalie Y. Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2006. Paper. 264pp.
Hill Collins, Patricia . From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006. Cloth. 256pp.

It's no longer novel to marvel at how far hip-hop has come. As a cultural phenomenon, hip-hop's mainstreaming has reached a fevered pitch, creating a thoroughly global and commercially lucrative business of itself. And after straying so far from its northeastern "home," hip-hop has recently been dubbed dead and been miraculously resurrected on the albums of Jay-Z and Nas, two of the most acclaimed hip-hop artists alive. It's all this talk of life, death, home, and global commercial success that illuminates the fact that hip-hop matters more than ever, both culturally and academically. In their respective publications, Patricia Hill Collins and the duo of Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Y. Moore provide compelling insights into hip-hop's role in the lives of a generation of black American men and women who simultaneously create and are created by hip-hop culture. Neither of these publications is a condemnation of hip-hop or its namesake generation; however, both books offer provocative critiques of the form and its creators.

Published in the same year, Hopkinson and Moore's Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation and Collins's From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism offer their reflections on the hip-hop generation's past, present, and future within the socio-political context of the United States—although Collins's work extends reflection to global communities of color. These two books join the growing number of popular academic texts devoted to the description, study, and critique of hip-hop from a female perspective—books like Tricia Rose's Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994), Joan Morgan's When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down (2000), Gwendolyn Pough's Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere (2004), and Imani Perry's Prophets Of The Hood: Politics And Poetics In Hip-Hop (2004), to name only a few. This growing body of scholarship has had the effect of creating "hip-hop" as a sort of shorthand to describe music, culture, fashion, aesthetics, a generation, an ontological way of being, and blackness itself. Hopkinson, Moore, and Collins enter into this rich discourse to explore the contours of contemporary black life and politics. Though self-described cultural guardians, as journalists Hopkinson and Moore approach the hip-hop generation as members and as lovers/mothers/ friends/critics of their male counterparts, offering us various "honest reflections and impressions" (xii) meant to fill the silence that "has enveloped black men who fall outside the [media's] established narratives" of black masculinity (xiii). Collins, as a sociologist, extends her focus beyond media representation into a more traditionally academic consideration of how coming of age amidst the rhetoric of colorblind racism has created a generation for whom silence seems the only response with regards to the interconnected issues of critical citizenship, intersectionality, and transformative activism.

Hopkinson and Moore provide narratives of black masculinity to flesh out what they describe as a cultural construct lacking in nuance and depth. From Moore's personal ruminations on covering Detroit's "hip-hop mayor," Kwame Kilpatrick, to the transcribed [End Page 1114] discussion of a group of young black women talking about boys, hip-hop, and sexuality in their lives, Deconstructing Tyrone appears to abound with compelling, contrasting visions of "Tyrone." For the writers, Tyrone is an ambiguous construct. He is "just a name that has come to speak to a unique form of black identity" that evokes "a range of emotions" in the public imagination (xi). The majority of the book's chapters dealing specifically with black men aim to explore how the...


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