Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future

My new book, Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future, from Repeater Books is now available for pre-order. Emerging alongside cyberpunk in the 1980s, the hallmarks of hip-hop — allusion, self-reference, the use of new technologies, sampling, the cutting and splicing of language and sound — would come to define the culture of the new millennium. Taking in the ground-breaking work of DJs and MCs, alongside science-fiction writers like Dick and Gibson, as well as graffiti and DIY culture, Dead Precedents is a counter-cultural history of the – twenty-first century, showcasing hip-hop’s role in the creation of the world in which we now live.

Dead Precedents shows how hip-hop culture opens new hope for the future by changing our understanding of the past.” — Steven Shaviro, author of Discognition

“This book extracts detail after detail on hip-hop and cyberpunk and gracefully weaves together a clear and fresh perspective on where we are today. Such a refreshing nonstop read!” — M. Sayyid, Antipop Consortium

“An intellectual hornet’s nest, buzzing with ideas. The canon of hip-hop crit welcomes a bold new entry, calculated to blow the doors off the usual moribund academic fare. Theory finds its own uses for things.”— Mark Dery, author of I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

“A book with so much energy and passion in it… a lively screed.” — Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgren

Get yours now from IndieBound or Amazon!

Books and Chapters

Dead Precedents
My new book, Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future, uses the concerns and conceits of cyberpunk to thoughtfully remap hip-hop’s spread from around the way to around the world. Its central argument is that the cultural practices of hip-hop culture are the blueprint to the 21st century, and that an understanding of its appropriation of language and technology is an understanding of the now. This book is about is the many ways that the foundations of hip-hop appropriation—allusions and creative language use, as well as technology and sampling—inform the new millennium. Dead Precedents will be out March 19, 2019 on Repeater Books. IndieBound / Amazon
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Post-Memes
My chapter in Post-Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production (Punctum Books, 2018) edited by Alfie Bown and Dan Bristow, is called "The Meme is Dead, Long Live the Meme." The essay aims to kill the Dawkinsian meme by showing that it has been supplanted by the internet meme. It hints at more than that, but that's the big idea.
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The St. James Encyclopedia of Hip-Hop Culture
I contributed several entries to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip-Hop Culture (St. James, Press, 2018), including ones on Gangsta Rap, Horrorcore, Rap Metal, and the hip-hop scene in my beloved Pacific Northwest. This massive, 500-page encyclopedia covers all aspects of hip-hop culture and is essential for libraries, institutions, and researchers alike.
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The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies
I have an essay in The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (Routledge, 2014) collection, co-edited by Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, and xtine burrough. They describe my chapter (“The End of an Aura: Nostalgia, Memory, and the Haunting of Hip-hop”) like this: “Christopher’s text by and large comprises a series of quotes by divergent authors, ranging from cyberpunk to hip-hop, which take the shape of an intertextual collage that turns into a case study of authenticity in the time of constant digital reproduction.” I was more than glad to have an opportunity to combine sampling, mediated memories, Walter Benjamin, and cyberpunk.
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The First Time I Heard My Bloody Valentine
I have an essay in the collection The First Time I Heard My Bloody Valentine (Rosecliff Press, 2014) edited by Scott Heim, which recounts the first time I saw them live (opening for Dinosaur Jr. in 1992). Other people in the book include folks like Bob Mould, members of Slowdive, Pale Saints, God is an Astronaut, Maps, Failure, and dälek. Other bands in the series include David Bowie, Kate Bush, The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, Joy Division/New Order, Abba, Kraftwerk, R.E.M., The Pixies, and Roxy Music, with more in the works.
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Sound Unbound
I was Assistant Editor to Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky on his essay collection, Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture (MIT Press, 2008). Contributors include Erik Davis, Manuel De Landa, Cory Doctorow, Chuck D, Brian Eno, Dick Hebdige, Vijay Iyer, Jaron Lanier, Jonathan Lethem, Moby, Steve Reich, Simon Reynolds, Scanner a.k.a. Robin Rimbaud, Bruce Sterling, Lucy Walker, and Saul Williams, among many others. David Byrne says Sound Unbound is “a nice antidote to the usual way music and the history of music is often categorized into high/low, pop/classical, or black/white,” Branford Marsalis says, “Sound Unbound is an excellent reference on art–in the popular context–in the twenty-first century”; and Laurie Anderson agrees, saying, “What a marvelous collection! … I love this book!”
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FREESTYLIN’: Generation F
I was a contributing writer to Freestylin’ Magazine‘s reunion book, Generation F (Wizard/Endo, 2008). Thanks to Mark Lewman, I got to reminisce about my early days of riding BMX and making my zines “The Unexplained” and “Front Wheel Drive,” as well as what I learned doing them with fellow travelers Mike Daily, Luke Strahota, Dave Fox, Todd Sines, The Swami, and Bill Keaggy, among others. It was an honor and a rare treat. You can flip through the book virtually here.
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Follow for Now
Follow for Now: Interviews with Friends and Heroes is an anthology of forty-three interviews with minds of all kinds. Published through my own Well-Red Bear imprint, Follow for Now is an eclectic, independently-minded snapshot of the intellectual landscape at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Disinformation named it “among the most important books published in 2007,” Erik Davis called it “a crisp and substantial remix of the major memes of the last decade or so,” and David Barker wrote that it and I were “about new ideas and trying to figure things out. I think he is about trying to make connections between things that no one else has connected.” Follow for Now includes an extensive bibliography, a full index, and weighs in at nearly 400 pages. Find out more, and order yours at the book’s own site, IndieBound, or Amazon.
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You Are Being Lied To
I have a little piece in Disinformation‘s first book, You Are Being Lied To (Disinformation, 2001), a compendium of dissent, which also includes essays by Noam Chomsky, Howard Bloom, Douglas Rushkoff, Howard Zinn, Russ Kick, Richard Metzger, Alex Burns, and Mark Pesce, among many others. I was a part of a virtual round table discussion about when and where we are being lied to. It was the first of many such germinal books from The Disinformation Company, and I’m proud to have had a small part in it.
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Illustration and Design

In addition to writing words, I draw and design things too.

Mission Unknown
Mission unknown. [Sharpie, December 24, 2017]
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PBR2-D2
PBR2D2 a.k.a. Pabst Blue Robot. [August 13, 2016]
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Prince, R.I.P.
I drew this portrait of Prince to accompany a piece for the Hong Kong Review of Books. I hope it at least seems fitting. There's no way to say what the man meant to me. [May 6, 2016]
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Hong Kong Review of Books Logo
My logo for the Hong Kong Review of Books. [Digital, March 12, 2016]
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Cloud Gate
"Cloud Gate" b.k.a. "The Bean." [I only had the one pen with me; May 8, 2014]
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Alaska Logo
Metal-ish logo for my rapper friend Tim "Alaska" Baker. Sharpies, white-out, and copy-machine. [February 16, 2014]
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About Me

I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan. I’m an aging BMX and skateboarding zine kid. That’s where I learned to turn events and interviews into pages with staples. I have since written about music, media, and culture for over three decades for everything from magazines and blogs to journals and books. I hold a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a member of the Adjunct Faculty at Loyola University Chicago. As a child, I solved the Rubik’s Cube competitively.

[Author photo by Sasha Wasio]