Can't Stop, Won't Stop | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

I can't get enough of the book I'm reading -- "Can't Stop Won't Stop" by Jeff Chang. It really delves into what was going on as hip-hop launched into life then writhed until it became what it is today. I've always said I like (modern) hip-hop for its stories, for what it tells me about young black Americans. Policymakers should study it, I've said, to see what they're really thinking.

But man, that was even more so when it first started. When hip-hop started in the South Bronx, the beats really were the only respite (and in this way, maybe Lil Jon isn't so bad .. that crunkified dancing may be just release, and that may be more important than I've realized). But it's amazing to see what ideas like urban renewal did to the black youth, to impoverished people put out of their houses all for the sake of a new freeway. The South Bronx part of the book was fierce enough: gangs, graffiti wars that end in death, Howard Beach, the rise of crack and freebasing.

But now, as the book moves to LA, it's getting even crazier. West Coast rappers had South Central and Compton, Rodney King and Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl shot by a Korean storeworker who mistakingly thought Harlins was stealing some juice. The Korean woman only got five years in prison. LA has the Crips, no grocery stores and Boyz N The Hood. NWA. Ice Cube (who by the way, after "Death Certificate" came out, used the same rationale that many rappers do now about saying the n-word or blasting misogyny or homophobia: "The language of the streets is the only language I can use to communicate with the streets.")

Man oh man.

I really love journalism. I really love all that it can teach.

Nick Kristof has announced another Win a Trip contest, and I am jealous of all the people excited about the possibility of going. I really want to go back; I want my blog again. I want to be writing so furiously, feeling like what I am doing is important. I want to be pushing myself beyond what I think is really possible. I want to be tired out from a good day of work. I want to be sweaty from interviewing in the heat. I miss these things. Sitting in an office is not for me. It just really isn't. I am learning so much at the Oregonian, but I am hungry for adventure, for a more global understanding.

I much prefer my laptop outside scattered by the world's largest mosquito bugs. I prefer working so hard your body absolutely will give out, but first: you have to file something, something so furioius that it pours out of you without you having to even consider it.

Oh, I want so much.

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