Details

ISBN-10: 0872868761
ISBN-13: 9780872868762
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 02/01/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H

Published by City Lights

What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language

Paperback

Price: $22.95 $16.07

Overview

A love letter to the verbal artistry of hip-hop, What’s Good is a work of passionate lyrical analysis” What’s Good is, among a great many other things, a byproduct of joyful obsession and immersion into both language and sound, an intersection that offers a rich and expansive land upon which to play. I’m grateful for…

A love letter to the verbal artistry of hip-hop, What’s Good is a work of passionate lyrical analysis

What’s Good is, among a great many other things, a byproduct of joyful obsession and immersion into both language and sound, an intersection that offers a rich and expansive land upon which to play. I’m grateful for Levin Becker’s mining of that land and the revelations found along the way, revelations which come to life in this book with a vivid and generous exuberance.” —Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

” For those of us who love rap, What’s Good is a gift. The book offers a new set of eyes and ears through which to see and to hear the language of rap. Its brief and brilliant chapters are like the best kinds of freestyles: spontaneous and structured, startling and profound. A remarkable achievement.” —Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop

What’s Good is a work of passionate lyrical analysis, a set of freewheeling liner notes, and a love letter to the most vital American art form of the last half century. Over a series of short chapters, each centered on a different lyric, Daniel Levin Becker considers how rap’s use of language operates and evolves at levels ranging from the local (slang, rhyme) to the analytical (quotation, transcription) to the philosophical (morality, criticism, irony), celebrating the pleasures and perils of any attempt to decipher its meaning-making technologies.

Ranging from Sugarhill Gang to UGK to Young M.A, Rakim to Rick Ross to Rae Sremmurd, Jay-Z to Drake to Snoop Dogg, What’s Good reads with the momentum of a deftly curated mixtape, drawing you into the conversation and teaching you to read it as it goes. A book for committed hip-hop heads, curious neophytes, armchair linguists, and everyone in between.

“Could this be the rap equivalent of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift or Marina Warner’s Once Upon A Time? Anyhow, it’s an electrifying book, full of wild epiphanies and provocations, an exhibition of a critical mind in full and open contact with their subject at the highest level, with a winning streak of confessional intimacy as well.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Arrest: A Novel

What’s Good is a feat of critical precision and personal obsession: Daniel Levin Becker’s deep appreciation for rap is rangy and illuminating, and his delight in language is infectious. What a thrill to swing so gracefully from Lil Wayne to Mary Ruefle to the lyrical evolution of ’tilapia’; pure pleasure. A generous, joyful exegesis.”–Anna Wiener, author of Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

“There is so much I admire about Daniel Levin Becker’s What’s Good: how knowledgeable it is, how synoptic, how precise, persuasive, and risky; I love its savvy politics, its passion, its aching, tragic heart.”–David Shields, author of Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season

“All in all, What’s Good is an enlightening, self-aware, and deeply satisfying look at the wondrous ways rap music uses language. It is absolutely essential reading on hip-hop–and one of the smartest books about music I’ve read.”–Ian Port, author of The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Reviews

Praise for What's Good:

"What's Good: Notes on Rap and Language is a celebration of the artistry and craft of rap lyrics written in a way that only Daniel Levin Becker could, with his sharp eye for linguistic experimentation and his appreciation for the ways rappers have been able to turn English inside out. His fascination is contagious as he revels in the incredible vitality of this ever-morphing lexicon, from its rhymes to its slang to its creation of new modes of meaning. It's the book us lovers of music and language had no idea we needed."–Emma Ramadan, Riffraff Books, Providence, RI

"Characterized with a clear love for hip-hop, Daniel Levin Becker's What's Good is a joyful and deep dive into the many wonders of hip-hop as an art form."–Bennard Fajardo, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington DC

Praise for the work of Daniel Levin Becker

"A distinctly intimate and exceptionally entertaining book. [...] I can affirm, utterly without constraint, that [Levin Becker] makes an ideal guide to the ingeniously madcap wonderland that is potential literature and art."–Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"In this rare alloy of autobiography, biography, history, humor, meditation, ode, shaggy-dog story, and treatise, readers will discover a book that arouses an appetite for a type of knowledge one didn't know one needed."– Michael Autrey, Booklist

"[Levin] Becker is a shrewd and entertaining writer: His youthful enthusiasm is infectious and his style, which has hints of modern American intellectual goofballers such as David Foster Wallace, combines the erudite with a cheerfully self-conscious admission of obsessive word-nerdiness. His footnotes become impressive, digressive asides."–Sara Lodge, Weekly Standard

"His personal perspective is compelling, and his book is beautifully written. So wonderfully written, in fact, that it's entirely worth reading even if, like me, you remain unconvinced by the Oulipo, an outsider looking in."– David Winters, Berfrois

"He is obviously very smart, but he doesn't need to show you that; instead, he leads with his curiosity and his humility."–Julia Keller on Levin Becker's Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature

More Reviews

Details

ISBN-10: 0872868761
ISBN-13: 9780872868762
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 02/01/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H
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