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”Sharpley-Whiting's book does not suffer from the sort of cowardice one too often hears from black academics who genuflect to hip hop in order to stay current with the tastes of the students who provide them with whatever power they have on college campuses. Sharpley-Whiting calls them as she sees them and wisely quotes the offensive material when necessary. Her book is high level in its research and its thought, and those looking for adult ideas about the subject should look it up.”
-Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News
”Sharpley-Whiting gets at the heart of the paradox . . . and puts the discussion on the turntable.”
”Sharpley-Whitting’s uncommon perspective is one that deserves to be examined more often.”
”For B-girls who embrace both the brashness of Lil’ Kim and the pro-feminism of Lauryn Hill, Pimps Up, Ho’s Down is an intellectual look at the intricate, diverse attitudes of young black women within the hip hop community. Sharpley-Whiting combines thought-provoking text with interviews that range from the ‘rich’ (see Trina) to the ‘regular’ (everyday women), giving a voice to today’s complex and contradictory females within hip hop.”
-The Source Magazine
”Through provocatively titled chapters such as ‘Sex, Power, and Punanny’ and ‘Strip Tails: Booty Clappin’, P-poppin’, Shake Dancing,’ Sharpley-Whiting provides a sobering analysis of women’s participation in the hyper-sexualized black American, urban youth culture known as hip hop. . . . This book delivers a riveting portrayal of hip hop, from the thumping rap music that serves as a soundtrack for America’s strip clubs to the predatory groupies who relentlessly pursue rap stars.”
”Probing. . . . A canny study. . . . Sharpley-Whiting brings both street smarts and sophisticated cultural analysis to her subject.”
”Clear and well written. . . . It serves as a decent jumping-off point to discussions of young black women in our current society. . . . Sharpley-Whiting has opened up the dialog, offering a source for research in a burgeoning area of study.”
”Sharpley-Whiting provides interesting anecdotes about the ways in which women are portrayed (and often used) within hip hop. . . . [Her] insightful analyses [include] a particularly interesting discussion of the intersections of race, class, and capitalism in strip clubs.”
Pimps Up, Ho’s Down is an in-depth look at hip hop’s effect on young black women. Sharpley-Whiting discusses topics such as light-skinned black (or ethnically ambiguous) females getting more love in hip hop videos, unreported sexual abuse within black communities - even the fact that most hip hop groupies do not consider themselves groupies. She successfully ties these trends into the mainstream hip hop culture of today. Pimps Up, Ho’s Down provides an intellectual look at how hip hop views and affects the young black women of this generation, most who are oblivious to what is actually going on. Sharpley-Whiting’s uncommon perspective is one that deserves to be examined more often.”
“Offers a bracing, brilliant, and provocative take on how hip hop has affected young black women. Sharpley-Whiting manages the difficult task of being critical of destructive elements of hip hop culture without being dismissive of its edifying dimensions. This lucidly penned manifesto in defense of the intellectual spaces between hip hop and feminism will undoubtedly inspire heated debate and fruitful conversation about gender, black identity, and conflict between the generations."
-Michael Eric Dyson, author of Know What I Mean?
“In Pimps Up, Ho’s Down, Sharpley-Whiting’s razor-sharp analysis turns an illuminating spotlight on the dark, complicated intersection where feminism and hip hop meet.”
-Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
"Pimps Up, Ho's Down provides a vital critical assessment of the sexual exploitation of women and girls all too prevalent in hip hop culture and in our larger society. This intelligent and sensitively written study is mandatory reading for those of us who must stop the violence."
-Darlene Clark Hine, co-author of A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America
“In this bold critique of popular culture’s stereotypical representations of hip hop, Tracy Sharpley-Whiting never wavers from her end goal of empowering the hip hop generation. Pimps Up, Ho’s Down takes this discussion beyond the ivory tower and into the lives of everyday people.”
-Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip-Hop Generation
"This compelling, well-researched-and alarming-account of how hip hop culture has impacted the lives and shaped the identities of young black women should be read by women and men of every generation."
-Paula Giddings, author of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
“Tracy Sharpley-Whiting’s groundbreaking book makes central the harsh sexist and racist realities that hip hop generation Black women face on a daily basis.”
-Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Producer/Director of NO! (The Rape Documentary)
Pimps Up, Ho's Down pulls at the threads of the intricately knotted issues surrounding young black women and hip hop culture. What unravels for Tracy D. Sharpley-Whiting is a new, and problematic, politics of gender. In this fascinating and forceful book, Sharpley-Whiting, a feminist writer who is a member of the hip hop generation, interrogates the complexities of young black women's engagement with a culture that is masculinist, misogynistic, and frequently mystifying.
Beyond their portrayal in rap lyrics, the display of black women in music videos, television, film, fashion, and on the Internet is indispensable to the mass media engineered appeal of hip hop culture, the author argues. And the commercial trafficking in the images and behaviors associated with hip hop has made them appear normal, acceptable, and entertaining-both in the U.S. and around the world.
Sharpley-Whiting questions the impacts of hip hop's increasing alliance with the sex industry, the rise of groupie culture in the hip hop world, the impact of hip hop's compulsory heterosexual culture on young black women, and the permeation of the hip hop ethos into young black women's conceptions of love and romance.
The author knows her subject from the inside. Coming of age in the midst of hip hop's evolution in the late 1980s, she mixed her graduate studies with work as a runway and print model in the 1990s. Her book features interviews with exotic dancers, black hip hop groupies, and hip hop generation members Jacklyn "Diva" Bush, rapper Trina, and filmmaker Aishah Simmons, along with the voices of many "everyday" young women.
Pimps Up, Ho's Down turns down the volume and amplifies the substance of discussions about hip hop culture and to provide a space for young black women to be heard.