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FRIDAY

Born in the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, amid political turmoil and civil-rights struggles, hiphop is, at its core, more than just beats and rhymes. To paraphrase Chuck D, hiphop was the CNN of the black diaspora. But over the past 30 years, the music and its message have been carried from urban street corners to the world’s stage, informing, inspiring, and infuriating people of all colors and creeds. The history of hiphop is sometimes portrayed as a cartoon—all superhero pseudonyms, zipper pants and fades, bling and braggadocio. But in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang traces hiphop’s evolution with great skill, painting a focused narrative about the music and its artists without ever forgetting the larger social picture that frames them. So when he spends 12 continuous sheets of the 500-plus-page book talking about Reggie Jackson, the 1977 blackout in New York City, and the Cross Bronx Expressway—with virtually no mention of music—you never find yourself asking why. Rather, Chang’s narrative sweeps you along like a great novel’s, only he builds his detailed scenes with enough raw data to form a hiphop encyclopedia—one that you will eagerly read from cover to cover. Chang reads at noon Friday, Feb. 18, at the Institute for Policy Studies, Suite 1020, 733 15th St. NW, free, (202) 234-9382; and at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, at Karibu Books, 3500 East-West Highway, Hyattsville. Free. (301) 559-1140. (Christopher Porter)