Jeff Chang – Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

Jeff Chang - Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

The hip-hop generation is too often overshadowed by a dark cloud called rap music. This isn’t a complaint—rap has done many great things for a great amount of people—but hip-hop heads, purists, and enthusiasts, often complain, justifiably, that the rest of hip-hop culture, musically or otherwise, is not being properly represented in the mainstream. You might call it the “four elements,” but as we all know, there is more than one official fifth, making for a long list of artistic contributions to hip-hop culture.

Jeff Chang, in his new book, calls it Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. Published by Basic Civitas, Total Chaos stays true to its name, as a hodgepodge of articles, poems, personal journals, and more, whose only relation is that they in some way reflect the aesthetic of the hip-hop generation. Chang, guiding the reader through interludes, moderations, and interviews, sidesteps this chaos, taking the role as editor for a group of established and fledging hip-hop writers and aestheticians. Subjects covered are diverse, providing insight on dance, literature, theatre, graphic design, and photography, alongside more abstract pieces on the art of the battle, and the codes of the b-boy.

These subjects, however, are only the surface of Total Chaos, a book which delves deep into hip-hop aesthetics of all kinds, which ultimately culminate in a manifesto on the hip-hop arts movement by Danny Hoch. Perfect for hip-hop enthusiasts, academics, or anyone interested in one of the most powerful cultural movements of the 20th century, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop is a must buy in 2007.

Shane Ward

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