Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff ChangAlthough I’ve been doing music reviews for about a decade now (if you count the time I spent writing with my college newspaper), I’ve never considered myself a person who is really well-rounded in terms of being knowledgable in regards to all different genres. I know my indie rock and electronic music quite well, with dabblings of smarts about jazz and classical and other styles, but when it comes time to start discussing something other than the areas I know best, I start to feel rather stupid.

That was one of the reasons that I decided to order a book about the history of hip-hop. I’d heard a lot of good things about Can’t Stop Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang and decided it would be a good starting point for me. As it turns out, it was probably one of the best places that I could have dipped my toes into the water, as it has a very thorough (if a bit trunicated) history of everything from street parties to breakdancing to graffiti artists to black nationalism right through to DJs and MCs and hip hop and rap music into present times. The time span covers roughly the last 30 years, and although I knew little bits and pieces about little things here and there, it was interesting to read the book and sort of tie all the loose ends together.

One of the things I enjoyed most was reading a more involved history of groups like Public Enemy, whom I really enjoy. I didn’t really discover the group on my own terms until well after their most popular (and controversial) period, and it was intersting to read about not only the things they did right, but their mistakes as well. Oddly enough, the book seemed rushed as it moved towards a conclusion, seemingly whittling down especially the past 10 years or so into a much smaller section of the book, but overall it was a highly enjoyable read. At least I don’t feel like quite as much of an idiot about hip hop music now.