Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
By Jeff Chang
Introduction by DJ Kool Herc
“Hip-hop is the voice of this generation. Even if you didn’t grow up in the Bronx in the ’70s, hip-hop is there for you. It has become a powerful force. Hip-hop binds all of these people, all of these nationalities, all over the world together.”
—DJ Kool Herc, from the Introduction
Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation’s worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told like this. From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the hip-hop activists, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop presents the hip-hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit, and style.
Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop’s forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation’s rise from the ashes of the 60s into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop was first published in the United States and Canada by St. Martin’s Press in hardcover in 2005, and republished by Picador Books in 2006. It is currently available in the U.S. in paperback and e-book formats from Picador. The book is also available in editions for Japan, France, Sweden, Finland, the UK, and Australia. Brazilian and Serbian editions are coming soon.
- 2005 American Book Award
- 2006 Asian American Literary Award
- 2006 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award
- 2006 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research
- San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
- New York Magazine
Best Music Book of 2005
- Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Best Music Book of 2005
- Boston Phoenix
#2 Nonfiction Book of 2005
- The Progressive
Favorite Books of 2005
- CBC Canada
2005 Arts Top 100
"Obsessively researched, beautifully written, Chang's book is the funky, bootleg, Bside remix of late20th century American history."
"When hip-hop 101 becomes a requirement, Jeff Chang's history of the turmoil that begat this beloved culture will be the goto textbook."
"The birth of hip-hop out of the ruin of the South Bronx is a story that has been told many times, but never with the cinematic scope and the analytic force that Chang brings to it...This is one of the most urgent and passionate histories of popular music ever written."
The New Yorker
"His scope is operatic, sprawling, and concerns itself with the people, places and politics that drove hip-hop from its infancy...perhaps Chang is hip-hop America's Howard Zinn."
"How and why hip-hop predicted today's cultural politics is the bailiwick of Jeff Chang's tour de force chronicle Can't Stop Won't Stop...his writing cogently and elegantly combines street reportage, music criticism, mother wit, semiotics and political analysis."
Greg Tate in The Nation
"Nothing less than the finest rap history extant..."
Robert Christgau, Rolling Stone
"It's the best music book that I've read in more than a decade."
"There is a fearless sweep to this book. As the narrative veers dizzyingly from content to context, from broadbrush assertion to the laserfocused insights of previously unheard voices, it's clear that there's no part of American life or recent history that Chang considers offlimits."
"Chang digs deeper than any previous hip-hop historian, and he also writes with more fluid eloquence and empathic warmth than any of his colleagues...Can't Stop Won't Stop is the best book ever written about hip-hop."
"Can't Stop Won't Stop remains vibrant, relevant, and vital. Grade: A-!"
For a complete list of Jeff's appearances, check Dates.
Can't Stop Won't Stop Extras
- A Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Q+A By Oliver Wang
An exclusive interview about the book from 2004
- A Tribute To Richie Perez
The story of one of the Bronx greats–a Young Lord and a mentor to many.
- Interviews With The Author
Four years of print, radio, and video interviews with Jeff Chang. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll order Chinese.
- Making A Name :: Book Excerpt
It has become myth, a creation myth, this West Bronx party at the end of the summer in 1973…
- Writing The Book, Part 1
From 2003, the first blog post on writing “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”. Can it be that it was all so simple then?
- Writing The Book, Part 3 or 2.5
Another blog post on writing “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” from the eve of release. Bonus angst: that vexing “Asian American question”.
Please Note: Due to the massive amount of email it has become impossible to reply individually to interview requests for term papers. With apologies, we would like to recommend this list of interviews and Jeff's articles in the Reader. Thanks for understanding.
USA Interview Requests, Media Inquiries, or Review Copy Requests:
UK and Australia Media Requests, Media Inquiries, or Review Copy Requests:
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Requests for commercial uses of any content here are welcome: come correct.