Books for the News

Michael P. Jeffries is sick of the pop formula

Michael P. Jeffries, whose forthcoming Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop offers one of the most insightful examinations of contemporary hip-hop music by an academic in years, has an article on the website of The Atlantic that gives readers a chance to preview the kind of trenchant critique of the hip-hop hegemon he serves up in his new book. Jeffries’ article begins with a quote from rapper Drake on the pressures of the music industry:

What if I don’t really do the numbers they predict?
Considering the fact that I’m the one that they just picked
To write a chapter in history, the shit has got me sick.

—Drake, “9AM in Dallas”
I’m sick too. Sick of the paint-by-numbers pop-formula used to construct Drake’s debut album, despite the success of his more adventurous mixtapes. Sick of major record labels’ self-fulfilling prophecies about which artists and images are marketable. But more than any of this, I’m sick of the notion that hip-hop needs saviors like Drake.

Continue reading at The Atlantic or find out more about Jeffries’ book due out December 2010.