To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America

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Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
February 25, 2020
5.6 X 1.2 X 8.3 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Felicia Angeja Viator is Assistant Professor of History at San Francisco State University. Prior to writing about music, she worked as a DJ in the Bay Area, where she was born and raised.


Rich with drama and details, To Live and Defy in LA tells the story of Los Angeles hip-hop during the eighties, a much-mythologized but often misunderstood period.--Hua Hsu, author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure across the Pacific
[Viator's] understanding of the hip-hop music and the musicians that first emerged from the streets of L.A. in the '80s is deep and profound.-- (12/30/2019)
Much more than the story of the creation of gangsta rap, the rise of NWA, or the history of early West coast rap in general. It's a cultural history. What one is left with at the book's end is the powerful idea of how art can be formed out of pain and suffering, and how injustice can be the crushing weight that can incite change.-- (03/20/2020)
Zero[es] in on how economic devastation and militarized policing bred a subgenre whose extreme lyrics were fueled by indigence...A fast-paced and engaging read for music fans, history buffs and anyone with an interest in social justice...Eye-opening.--KQED (04/01/2020)