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Sampling and Remixing Blackness is a timely and accessible book that examines the social ramifications of cultural borrowing and personal adaptation of Hip-hop culture by non-Black and non-African American Black artists in theater and performance. In a cultural moment where Hip-hop theater hits such as Hamilton offer glimpses of Black popular culture to non-Black people through musical soundtracks, GIFs, popular Hip-hop music, language, clothing, singing styles and embodied performance, people around the world are adopting a Blackness that is at once connected to African American culture--and assumed and shed by artists and consumers as they please. As Black people around the world live a racial identity that is not shed, in a cultural moment of social unrest against anti-blackness, this book asks how such engagements with Hip-hop in performance can be both dangerous and a space for finding cultural allies. Featuring the work of some of the visionaries of Hip-hop theater including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sarah Jones and Danny Hoch, this book explores the work of groundbreaking Hip-hop theater and performance artists who have engaged Hip-hop's Blackness through popular performance. The book challenges how we understand the performance of race, Hip-hop and Blackness in the age of Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. In a cultural moment where racial identity is performed through Hip-hop culture's resistance to the status quo and complicity in maintaining it, Hodges Persley asks us to consider who has the right to claim Hip-hop's blackness when blackness itself is a complicated mixtape that offers both consent and resistance to transgressive and inspiring acts of performance.
Nicole Hodges Persley is Associate Professor of American Studies and African & African American Studies at The University of Kansas.