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To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic by William Jelani Cobb
Publication Date: New York: New York University Press, 2007
With roots that stretch from West Africa through the black pulpit, hip-hop emerged in the streets of the South Bronx in the 1970s and has spread to the farthest corners of the earth. In To the Break of Dawn, Jelani Cobb examines this freestyle verbal artistry on its own terms. A kid from Queens who spent his youth at the epicenter of this new art form, Cobb traces hip-hop's relationship to ancestral forms of expression and explores the cultural and literary elements that are at its core. He divides the book into five sections, discussing "hip-hop's relationship to ancestral forms of African-American culture; the history of its aesthetic evolution; its use of the "entire palette of poetic techniques"; the influence of the storytelling tradition, especially black autobiography; and studies of seven important artists in the field" (Publishers Weekly). Unlike books that focus on hip-hop as a social movement or a commercial phenomenon, To the Break of Dawn tracks the music's aesthetic, stylistic, and thematic evolution from its inception to today's distinctly regional sub-divisions and styles.
The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader by Edited by William Jelani Cobb; Foreword by Stanley Crouch
Publication Date: New York: Palgrave, 2002
The first collection of published and unpublished work by Harold Cruse, one of America's foremost and controversial black writers. In 1967, as the movement for civil rights was turning into a bitter, often violent battle for black power, Harold Cruse's The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual burst onto the scene. It was a lacerating attack on integration, and set the agenda for black cultural, social, and political autonomy. A classic of African American social thought, the book and its author went on to influence generations of activists, artists, and scholars. In this first anthology of Cruse's writing, William Jelani Cobb provides an introduction to Cruse's wide body of work, including published material such as excerpts from Crisis, as well as unpublished essays, speeches, and correspondence.
The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress by Jelani Cobb
Publication Date: New York: Walker & Company, 2010
When voters in 2008 chose the United States' first black president, some Americans hailed the event as a sign that the nation had, at long last, transcended its bloody history of racial inequality. Obama's victory was indescribably momentous, but if the intervening years proved anything, it is that we never leave history entirely behind. The Substance of Hope is acclaimed historian Jelani Cobb's meditation on what Obama's election represented, an insightful investigation into the civil rights movement forces that helped produce it, and a prescient inquiry into how American society does-and does not-change. Cobb teases apart the paradoxes embodied in race and patriotism, identity and citizenship, progress and legacy in this examination of the still-contested meanings of President Barack Obama's election and the future of the United States.
The Devil and Dave Chappelle & Other Essays by William Jelani Cobb
Publication Date: New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2007
An unflinching collection of essays that takes on the subjects of Biggie Smalls, Three 6 Mafia, The King Family, and what it takes to be Black at the turn of the twenty-first century. In William Jelani Cobb uses cinema, music, literature, politics, and pop culture to reveal some discomforting realities.
(Runtime: 1:30:17, March 8, 2021) A discussion between Jelani Cobb and Jason Stanley, held by the Redding League of Women Voters and the Mark Twain Library and moderated by Tina Rosenburg, "examines the underlying meaning of our democracy and how democracy can matter even when we have very different ideas about what it should look like." (Video description)
(Runtime: 54:16, August 27, 2015) "In this talk, journalist and University of Connecticut history professor Jelani Cobb discusses citizenship in an age of expanded state authority. How much power should we afford those who keep us safe? How have strained relationships between minorities and governing authorities defined the nation's first black presidency?" (Video description)