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Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture.

There aren't many writers better equipped than Nelson George to chronicle the last two decades of African-American popular culture. More than any other current writer, George, a brazen Brooklyn B-Boy, has his finger on the positive tip of hipness. Now in a book of essays, Buppies, B-Boys, Baps & Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture, the Village Voice columnist writes compellingly on the black aesthetic metamorphosis from soul, funk and disco to hip-hop and New Jack Swing; from Shaft to Spike Lee; and from Berry Gordyto Russell Simmons.

George, the author of The Death of Rhythm & Blues and The Michael Jackson Story, packs his new book with more than 80 essays on music, film, sports, city life, publishing and politics. Many of these come from his Village Voice column "Native Son." The writings (from 1980 to 1992) cover a mix of African-American life and are broken down into five sections: "B-Boys," "Media impressions," "Soul Culture: Trad, and Retro-Nuevo," "To Be a Black Man," and "Big City Dreams."

The essays aren't all short pieces. "Why Did Edmund Perry Die?" relates the life and death of a young Harlem honor student killed under questionable circumstances by a New York City undercover cop. "Was Edmund, like so many other victims in this city, just too black for his own good?" George asks.

Buppies is more than a collection of essays - it's a handbook of late 20th-century black urban culture. It includes a chronology (from 1971 to the present) of cultural milestones that have shaped Black America. The reader is reminded that in 1971, Melvin Van Peebles' film Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song premiered, and in 1980, Molefi Kete Asante published Afrocentricity. George taps into and documents movements and aesthetics that influence American and world music, style, dress and language. The book's cross section of black cultural life also tells how "a generation's way of coping and being, of how the past and present conspired to mold a nation of Buppies, b-boys, baps, bohos, and all of us in between."
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Author:Robinson, Frederick D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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