Can't Stop Won't Stop (2005, St. Martin's Press) 4 stars

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop has been a generation-defining …

Essential hip hop history

5 stars

This is THE book I recommend to anyone who wants to know about the history of hip hop and particularly its first few decades of existence. Where most histories of hip hop begin with kids in the Bronx in the 1970s, Chang instead begins with the Jamaican sound clashes of the 1950s, drawing a direct line from that culture to New York hip hop via DJ Kool Herc's status as a Jamaican immigrant.

The whole book is rigorous without being academically boring, and it treats the subject with the respect that it deserves. It's full of material from interviews, both pulled from archives as well as ones conducted by Chang himself, but it's not a lazy oral history. Chang does the hard work of providing necessary historical context.