Today in the Brooklyn Rail, Jesse Tangen-Mills reviews Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation, Sujatha Fernandes' personal travelogue in search of an international hip hop political ethos that spans Cuba to Chicago, Lebanon to Australia. Tangen-Mills writes, "It used to be hard to find a rap song that didn't end with international shout-outs. The obvious question was: Do they really have fans there? Turns out, they did."
In the context of Fernandes' political project, Tangen-Mills shrewdly quotes Kool G Rap: "rap is my nation." This was a global nation that resonated across language barriers, until it collapsed into simulacra:
But what kind of nation is that and who really wants to live there, where someone gets thrown out a window and shot on the way down (à la "Ill Street Blues")? Once it seemed like no one was no longer really living there—that is, it was caricature—something about realism in rap was forever changed.
Read the full review at the Brooklyn Rail.