For the young daydreamer Ta-Nehisi Coates
, now hailed as the "James Joyce of the hip-hop generation," the sounds of hip-hop were seductive diversions from his father's strict programme of study. But in the summer of 1988, Ta-Nehisi's Consciousness bloomed to KRS-One and Public Enemy. Hip-hop, for young Ta-Na, boosted the words of his father, a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization.
To mark the publication of The Beautiful Struggle,
an extraordinary coming-of-age story by the author of the NYT bestseller Between the World and Me,
we present a playlist of the music from the book, annotated with extracts. Set in Baltimore during the 1980s, hip-hop is the main soundtrack to Coates' youth in a city on the verge of chaos where a boy needed to learn The Knowledge fast.
In a Sunday OpEd in the New York Times
, Sujatha Fernandes, author of Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation
, examines the social and political role of music in Mali, where it has been almost nine months since Islamic militants in the northern part of the country have effectively banned the medium in its entirety. Whatever its motivation, Fernandes argues that the ban reveals "something about the nature of music itself as the essence of our social bonds and a bulwark against unfettered use of power."
Read the full text of the article here