Hip Hop and Philosophy
Rhyme 2 Reason
Edited by Derrick Darby and Tommie Shelby
Foreword by Cornel West
Volume 16 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series
Should we stop ALL the violence in hip hop? Does po-po have legit authority in the hood? How do we draw the line between the real Curtis Jackson and the artist 50 Cent, or the real Kimberly Jones and the artist Lil' Kim? Is hip-hop culture a "black" thang? Is it morally permissible for N.W.A. to call themselves niggaz and for Dave Chappelle to call everybody bitches?
Yes, KRS-One and BDP, the crew assembled here are all philosophers! Believe that. In Hip Hop and Philosophy, this almighty posse, using mad skillz, moves from rhyme to reason to further our quest for knowledge. They keepin' it real by giving props to great philosophers and peepin' philosophical problems through hip-hop lenses and in the spirit of the culture.
They show that rap classics by Lauryn Hill, OutKast, and the Notorious B.I.G. can help us uncover the meanings of love articulated in Plato's Symposium. We'll see how Run-D.M.C., Snoop Dogg, and Jay-Z can teach us about self-consciousness and the dialectic in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. And we'll learn that Rakim, 2Pac, and Nas can shed light on the conception of God's essence expressed in Aquinas's Summa Theologica. These philosophers delight in showing how a love for rhymes over beats and for pure reason, far from being incompatible, can be mastered and mixed to contemplate life's most profound mysteries.
"These hip-hop scholars put aside the divide between high and low culture and just hit you with depth and realness. Big Up!"
—Imani Perry, author of Prophets of the Hood
"Derrick Darby and Tommie Shelby . . . dare to support the claim that hip hop is a legitimate worldview, primed to redefine what it means to be one with the world."
—Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man
"Step aside Socrates, Kant, and Sartre—new seekers of philosophical wisdom are on the scene . . . Big props to Derrick Darby, Tommie Shelby, and their philosophical crew for maintaining existential and ontological authenticity, aka keeping it real, in bringing us their message. Word up!"
—Charles W. Mills, author of The Racial Contract
"The level of philosophical inquiry is consistently high and the spirit of hip hop is carefully, lovingly evoked in ways that enrich our understanding of the contemporary human condition."
—Murray Forman, author of The ’Hood Comes First
Derrick Darby is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University. He was raised in the Queensbridge Housing Projects, home to some of hip-hop’s greatest talents, including pioneering hip-hop DJ Marley Marl, pioneering rap MC Nas, and the dynamic rap duo Mobb Deep, Prodigy and Havoc.
Tommie Shelby is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University, and author of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity.