Boogie Down Predictions:
Hip-Hop, Time, and Afrofuturism

Coming in Fall of 2021 from Strange Attractor Press.

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on an edited collection as a companion to my book, Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future (Repeater Books, 2019). Time was one of the aspects of both hip-hop and science fiction that I didn’t get to talk about much in that book, so I started asking around. I found many other writers, scholars, theorists, DJs, and emcees, as interested in the intersection of hip-hop and time as I was.

As I continued contacting people and collecting essays, I got more and more excited about the book, now called Boogie Down Predictions: Hip-Hop, Time, and Afrofuturism. It’s coming out next fall on Strange Attractor/MIT Press. Here’s some of the back-cover copy and the table of contents:

“This book, edited by Roy Christopher, is a moment. It is the deconstructed sample, the researched lyrical metaphors, the aha moment on the way to hip-hop enlightenment. Hip-hop permeates our world, and yet it is continually misunderstood. Hip-hop’s intersections with Afrofuturism and science fiction provide fascinating touchpoints that enable us to see our todays and tomorrows. This book can be, for the curious, a window into a hip-hop-infused Alter Destiny—a journey whose spaceship you embarked on some time ago. Are you engaging this work from the gaze of the future? Are you the data thief sailing into the past to U-turn to the now? Or are you the unborn child prepping to build the next universe? No, you’re the superhero. Enjoy the journey.” — Ytasha L. Womack, from the Introduction

Through essays by some of hip-hop’s most interesting thinkers, theorists, journalists, writers, emcees, and DJs, Boogie Down Predictions: Hip-Hop, Time, and Afrofuturism is a quest to understand the connections between time, representation, and identity within hip-hop culture, as well as what that means for the culture at large. Introduced by Ytasha L. Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, this book explores these temporalities, possible pasts, and further futures from a diverse, multi-layered, interdisciplinary perspective.

Boogie Down Predictions offers new ways of listening to, looking at, and thinking about hip-hop culture. It teaches us that hip-hop bends time, blending past, present, and future in sound and sense. Roy Christopher has given us more than a book; it’s a cypher and everyone involved brought bars.”
— Adam Bradley, author, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop

“The study of hip-hop requires more than a procession of protagonists, events, and innovations. Boogie Down Predictions stops the clock—each essay within it a frozen moment, an opportunity to look sub-atomically at the forces that drive this culture.”
— Dan Charnas, author, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop and Dilla Time: How A Hip-Hop Producer Reinvented Rhythm and Changed the Way Musicians Play 

“How does hip-hop fold, spindle, or mutilate time? In what ways does it treat technology as, merely, a foil? Are its notions of the future tensed…or are they tenseless? For Boogie Down Predictions, Roy Christopher’s trenchant anthology, he’s assembled a cluster of curious interlocutors. Here, in their hands, the culture has been intently examined, as though studying for microfractures in a fusion reactor. The result may not only be one of the most unique collections on hip-hop yet produced, but, even more, and of maximum value, a novel set of questions.”
— Harry Allen, Hip-Hop Activist & Media Assassin

Table of Contents:

Preface – Roy Christopher
Introduction – Ytasha L. Womack

I. TIME

  1. Take Me Back: Ghostface’s Ghosts – Steven Shaviro
  2. OutKast’s Visual Worlds – Tiffany E. Barber
  3. Close to the Edge: The Extended Take in Hip-Hop Music Video – Jeff M. Heinzl
  4. Glitched: Spacetime, Repetition, and the Cut – Nettrice R. Gaskins
  5. The Theology of Timing – Omar Akbar
  6. Breakbeat Poems – Kevin Coval
  7. The Free Space/Time Style of Black Wholes – Juice Aleem
  8. Chopping Neoliberalism, Screwing the Record Labels: DJ Screw, Atavistic Hipsters and Temporal Politics – Aram Sinnreich & Samantha Dols

II. TECHNOLOGY

  1. Scratch Cyborgs: The Hip-Hop DJ as Technology – André Sirois
  2. Done by the Trickle Trickle – Dave Tompkins
  3. Preprogramming the Present: The Musical Time Machines of Gabriel Teodros – Erik Steinskog
  4. The Cult of Rammellzee – Joël Vacheron
  5. Hip-Hop’s Modes of Production are Futuristic – Chuck Galli
  6. #ThisIsAmerica: Rappers, Racism, and Twitter – Tia C. M. Tyree

III. THE FUTURE

  1. Further Considerations on Afrofuturism – Kodwo Eshun
  2. Afrofuturism and the Intersectionality of Civil Rights, the Space Race, Hip-Hop, and Black Femininity – K. Ceres Wright
  3. Afrofuturism in clipping.’s Splendor & Misery – Jonathan Hay
  4. Abstract but Not Arbitrary: How Antipop Consortium Was Forged in the Fire of New York’s 90s Creative Scene – John Morrison
  5. Constructing a Theory and Practice of Black Quantum Futurism – Rasheedah Phillips

Many thanks to those who contributed, to those who wished us well, and to Jamie Sutcliffe and Mark Pilkington at Strange Attractor. An extra special shout goes out to Travis Terrell Harris. Be on the lookout for this in the Fall of 2021.

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