Cover image for The new H.N.I.C. (head niggas in charge) : the death of civil rights and the reign of hip hop
The new H.N.I.C. (head niggas in charge) : the death of civil rights and the reign of hip hop
Boyd, Todd.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxii, 169 pages ; 21 cm
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.86 .B649 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



When Lauryn Hill stepped forward to accept her fifth Grammy Award in 1999, she paused as she collected the last trophy, and seeming somewhat startled said, "This is crazy, 'cause this is hip hop music.'" Hill's astonishment at receiving mainstream acclaim for music once deemed insignificant testifies to the explosion of this truly revolutionary art form. Hip hop music and the culture that surrounds it--film, fashion, sports, and a whole way of being--has become the defining ethos for a generation. Its influence has spread from the state's capital to the nation's capital, from the Pineapple to the Big Apple, from 'Frisco to Maine, and then on to Spain.

But moving far beyond the music, hip hop has emerged as a social and cultural movement, displacing the ideas of the Civil Rights era. Todd Boyd maintains that a new generation, having grown up in the aftermath of both Civil Rights and Black Power, rejects these old school models and is instead asserting its own values and ideas. Hip hop is distinguished in this regard because it never attempted to go mainstream, but instead the mainstream came to hip hop.

The New H.N.I.C. , like hip hop itself, attempts to keep it real, and challenges conventional wisdom on a range of issues, from debates over use of the "N-word," the comedy of Chris Rock, and the "get money" ethos of hip hop moguls like Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Russell Simmons, to hip hop's impact on a diverse array of figures from Bill Clinton and Eminem to Jennifer Lopez.

Maintaining that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is less important today than DMX's It's Dark and Hell is Hot , Boyd argues that Civil Rights as a cultural force is dead, confined to a series of media images frozen in another time. Hip hop, on the other hand, represents the vanguard, and is the best way to grasp both our present and future.

Author Notes

Todd Boyd is a professor of Critical Studies in the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This misguided thesis takes its title from the first solo album by Prodigy of the rap group Mobb Deep, H.N.I.C. ("Head Nigga in Charge"). Boyd (critical studies, Univ. of Southern California, Sch. of Cinema-Television) intends to illustrate the pervasive influence of hip-hop, to the point that it obliterated the effects of the Civil Rights Movement. However, he fails to provide ample evidence: after dismissing Martin Luther King and others' efforts in a mere three pages, he pontificates on comedian Chris Rock and hip-hopreneur Russell Simmons, among other topics, in prose that mixes poststructuralist rhetoric ("tropes") with gutter slang ("muthafucka"). In addition to that problematic polarity, the book is shot through with sweeping generalizations, distorted braggadocio, and a tired, threadbare caucasophobia. All in all, Boyd talks more about himself than the music and movement. Scholars seeking a deconstructionist perspective on rap music will be far better served by Russell Porter's Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism. A collection of cogent, insightful interviews with rap pioneers, It's Not About a Salary: Hiphop in Los Angeles from the Watts Prophets to the Freestyle Fellowship remains the richest primary sourcebook on the sociopolitical significance of this important genre. Not recommended.-Bill Piekarski, Angelicus Webdesign, Lackawanna, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface: Game Recognize Gamep. ix
Who We Be: Introducing the New H.N.I.Cp. 1
1 No Time for Fake Niggas: Hip Hop, from Private to Publicp. 24
2 Brothas Gonna Work It Out: Hip Hop's Ongoing Search for the Realp. 44
3 Can't Knock the Hustle: Hip Hop and the Cult of Playa Hatin'p. 61
4 Head Nigga in Charge: Slick Willie, Slim Shady, and the Return of the "White Negro"p. 102
Epilogue: Where's the Love?p. 139
Selected Bibliographyp. 153
Glossary of Hip Hop Termsp. 155
Shout Outsp. 159
Indexp. 161
About the Authorp. 169