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Publishers Weekly, 2004-07-05 At first glance, one might not expect a British novelist to be a particularly insightful commentator on hip-hop, "the most elemental expression of contemporary America." But starting with a description of his first encounter with a rap record in the mid-1980s, Neate displays a sympathy and sensitivity to the musical genre many American critics would be hard-pressed to match. A trek to examine hip-hop's global influence begins with a visit to New York-and a willing acknowledgment that this city is only one facet of the complex American hip-hop scene. Neate's recognition of his own limitations increases his credibility as he drops in on the subcultures in Japan, South Africa and Brazil to see how fans are "keeping it real." He sees in hip-hop a powerful voice of protest against the status quo and is adamant about the need for its creators to wrest financial control of their music away from multinational media companies. His recommendation that American hip-hop artists start cultivating a deeper global political consciousness may come across as overly didactic, but it's the culmination of a consistent awareness of the ways in which non-Americans are already using the music to describe and define their lives. (Aug.) FYI: Neate won the Whitbread Award in 2002; his latest novel, The London Pigeon Wars, is currently out from FSG. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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