With textbook intensity, journalist Jeff Chang has crafted not just a fantastic history of hip-hop, but a distinct force in American culture.
Can't Stop Won't Stop reads like a collection of time capsules. Chang highlights obvious cultural touchstones, but the strength of this book is in his bottomless research. The innovators and the unsung heroes of hip-hop, both the music and culture, are firmly placed on the mantle they deserve.
For the kids who came around long after the likes of Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, Can't Stop Won't Stop is their introduction and extensive guide to American History of the last 30 years.
Hip-hop culture is the mainstream in American pop culture. Chang's view on the subject is not always pretty, but he takes great care to stick to his journalistic roots and let the story tell itself.
Fans of trashy, tell-all pop star biographies should look elsewhere for their thrills. Can't Stop Won't Stop is much too important and (gasp!) educational to not be taken seriously.
Chang's work can hone in on one individual and offer too much needless information, effectively slowing down proceedings. However, he succeeds in linking the struggles of hip-hop to the struggles of a defiant culture refusing to go away quietly.
Can't Stop Won't Stop is an incredible representation of the hip-hop culture at its best. Hip-hop can be the defiant fist in the air, surrounded by a million others. At least that is what it could be.