Nelson George, columnist for the Village Voice and author of Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound and The Death of Rhythm and Blues, now presents a collection of articles from his in-the stream journalism on black culture from the 1970s on. Cruising as he does through the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, the rise of rap and hip-hop, the death in 1985 of a black student, Edmund Perry, shot by a white cop, the terms that roll through his prose (“black cultural emasculation,” “Malcolmania,” “black aesthetic”), he presents a vivid and African-American-centered view of how the black community has changed over those decades. The names, old and new, of those his writings touch upon rumble through them like thunder: Marvin Gaye, Spike Lee, Rick James, Tracy Chapman, Kool Moo Dee, Al Sharpton, David Dinkins, Magic Johnson.
Break-dancers and black yuppies, black bohemians and the blaxploited
None of the pathologies plaguing black America escape notice; the misogyny, the gangs, the violence, the shattered families. But he also recognizes the genuine, uniquely African-American culture that has grown up alongside and in spite of all this, as has been the fate of black culture in America from the beginning, an improbable growth in a stony soil. From break dancing to Richard Pryor, from Alex Haley’s Roots to basketball as near-religion, black artistic and cultural achievement and character are all described with brutal honesty and loving compassion, and in first-quality prose. The title of the book could on the surface refer to the way black culture has grown and changed after the end of soul as a musical genre. On a deeper level it could refer to a quest to find a soul that’s been buried or lost. A journey through the recent past of black evolution, with detailed but still uncertain glimpses of where it’s going and where the road might bend.
Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture
by Nelson George
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (July 12, 2001)