Somebody Scream!

Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power

Marcus Reeves

Faber & Faber

"A strong and timely book for the new day in hip-hop. Don't miss it!"—Cornel West

For many African Americans of a certain demographic the sixties and seventies were the golden age of political movements. The Civil Rights movement segued into the Black Power movement which begat the Black Arts movement. Fast forward to 1979 and the release of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” With the onset of the Reagan years, we begin to see the unraveling of many of the advances fought for in the previous decades. Much of this occurred in the absence of credible, long-term leadership in the black community. Young blacks disillusioned with politics and feeling society no longer cared or looked out for their concerns started rapping with each other about their plight, becoming their own leaders on the battlefield of culture and birthing Hip-Hop in the process. In Somebody Scream, Marcus Reeves explores hip-hop music and its politics. Looking at ten artists that have impacted rap—from Run-DMC (Black Pop in a B-Boy Stance) to Eminem (Vanilla Nice)—and puts their music and celebrity in a larger socio-political context. In doing so, he tells the story of hip hop’s rise from New York-based musical form to commercial music revolution to unifying expression for a post-black power generation. 


Read an Excerpt

Somebody Scream
ONEGeneration RemixedPast-nationalism and the Black Culture Shuffle 
Hip-hop emerged because nothing had changed since the '60s.--Sonia Sanchez 
A final goal should be to prevent the long-range growth of militant black nationalist organizations especially among the youth.--FBI Counterintelligence Program memo 
"Whoa! What's that?" I asked Uncle William. In the spring of 1975, a business card with a black panther on it caught my six-year-old eyes. It was exposed through the cardholder of my uncle's wallet


Praise for Somebody Scream!

“A sweeping, painstakingly thorough . . . history of hip-hop.” —Baz Dreisinger, The New York Times Book Review

“Extending the historical analysis found in other works on the genre, such as Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Reeves underscores the importance of rap as an art form that continues to evolve while remaining a viable means through which to channel future discourse of post–black power America.” —Library Journal

“Pay attention: one of the most compelling writers of our generation has arrived. Somebody Scream! is a deeply imagined, finely balanced, and richly detailed narrative of our nation’s complicated, contradictory, often explosive post–black power journey.” —Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

“A muscular narrative of rap music . . . [Reeves’s] attempt to suss out what exactly rap means in the modern black community is incisive and hopeful without succumbing to the hyperbolic claims common to music journalists.” —Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Marcus Reeves

  • Marcus Reeves has covered youth culture and politics for over fifteen years, in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Vibe, and The Source.
  • Marcus Reeves (c) Colin Brennan


Available Formats and Book Details

Somebody Scream!

Rap Music's Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power

Marcus Reeves