Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Soul(less) On Ice?

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Blame it on “indie” rock. My third book Hip Hop World has absolutely nothing to do with what is considered to be modern day "indie" rock music in Canada (read: rock n' roll is an African American invention, and mofo's need to look up what the word independent actually means). But the more I travel the globe, shilling books and Big Ideas, I often wonder if I am alone in feeling bamboozled into believing that anything could be more ”indie” in thought, resources and spirit than rap music and its global multi-culti constituencies.
My Hip Hop World-ing might hopefully help shift this paradigm.

Sadly, some of the only things that are black or “of color” at “indie” rock gatherings (and far too many Toronto area book launches, not hosted by Austin Clarke, or A Different Booklist bookstore), are the stage curtains. And even them curtains ain’t got no soul. So I decided to celebrate hip hop, in print, in all its global multiracial glory.

I half-jokingly billed my book launch last month as the anti-book launch, book launch. An event filled with diversity in all its forms. Something unfamiliar to the local literati. Most of the hip hop practitioners I consider colleagues and friends, come from all over the map, are Black to South Asian, Asian to Aboriginal, Eastern European to Latin American, and more. And their stories need to be told. And they came to my launch party.

On this blog throughout November, I want to ask book lovers across the province some tough questions about race and writing, progressive living, and music culture. Like, why does hip hop (and most other Afro-Diasporic black music forms) still get little respect in this country, while the “indie” rock scene in Toronto - that operates out of arguably the worlds most multicultural city - yet is so terribly homogenous and provincial (been to a Toronto area "indie" rock show recently?) gets celebrated ad nauseum.

I am here to write about Inconvenient Truths. Did Hipster Rap (R.I.P.) ever stand a chance given the shortened attention spans of its millennial music inventors? Can we vote BET off the air?

I wrote the book I wanted to read, and this blog will serve the same purpose. And that means musing on whether Asher Roth is as terrible as I think he is, and why I think burgeoning Aboriginal rap scenes rule.

Can rap live on forever? Disco died. Funk went badunk. Techno is like “hell, no”. Or has rap already died and gone to a Cuban (or Chinese) heaven?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Dalton Higgins

Dalton Higgins is a music programmer, pop culture critic, author, broadcaster and journalist. He is also Canada’s foremost expert on hip hop culture. His latest book is Hip Hop World (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi).

Go to Dalton Higgins’s Author Page