[UCP Books]: Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central by Jooyoung Lee
“In Blowin' Up, Lee does an amazing job of illuminating the lives of black men in one of Los Angeles’s underground rap scenes. His engaging, accessible, and descriptive book takes us vividly inside this world, and it is one of a kind in terms of looking at the careers and lives of underground rappers.”—Scott Brooks, author of Black Men Can't Shoot
Rap Dreams in South Central
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-226-34889-6 / $20.00 / £14.00
South Central LA has been home to many of the biggest stars in hip hop, and right this moment there is a new generation of young, mostly black, men busting out rhymes and hoping to one day find themselves “blowin’ up”—getting signed to a record label and becoming famous. Many of these aspiring rappers get their start in Leimart Park, home to the legendary hip hop open-mic workshop, Project Blowed. In Blowin’ Up, Jooyoung Lee takes us deep inside Project Blowed and the surrounding music industry, offering an unparalleled look at hip hop in the making.
While most books on rap are written from the perspective of listeners and the market, Blowin’ Up looks specifically at the creative side. As Lee shows, learning how to rap involves a great deal of discipline, and it takes practice to acquire the necessary skills to put on a good show. Along with Lee—who is himself a pop-locker—we watch as the rappers at Project Blowed learn the basics, from how to hold a microphone to how to control their breath amid all those words. And we meet rappers like E. Crimsin, Nocando, VerBS, and Flawliss as they freestyle and battle with each other. For the men at Project Blowed, hip hop offers a creative alternative to the gang lifestyle, substituting verbal competition for physical violence, and provides an outlet for setting goals and working toward them.