mickey hess
professor and author

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Born in rural Kentucky, Mickey Hess grew up listening to the militant rap of Public Enemy while living in a place where the state song still included the word “darkies.” Listening to hip-hop made Hess think about what it meant to be white, while the environment in small-town Kentucky encouraged him to avoid or even mock such self-examination. 

With America’s history of cultural appropriation, we’ve come to mistrust white people who participate deeply in black culture, but backing away from black culture is too easy a solution. As a white professor with a longstanding commitment to teaching hip-hop music and culture, Hess offers a point of entry for readers committed to racial justice, but uncertain about white people’s role in relation to black culture. 

The idea of being a “white ally” boldly challenges mainstream Americans to take a look into a broken mirror and see the shattered pieces for what they are. I believe that by picking up this book you are making the decision to try to see things differently. – Masta Ace, from his foreword
An honest and desperately needed treatment of hip hop, race, and culture. Hess’s willingness to grapple with poverty, power, and privilege make this book more than a tribute to the music we love – it is a blueprint for preserving the best of what hip hop has to offer. As a white fan striving to be an ally in the struggle against racism, Hess credits hip hop with teaching him the ugly truth about his history and the present. This book extends that education to everyone who picks it up, and the message needs to be heard in the academy and in the street. – Michael Jeffries, Associate Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College and the author of Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop

In the short time I’ve gotten to know Mickey Hess (or Doc Hip Hop as the “cool kids” say) we’ve discussed everything from raising children, to racism in America, to the genius of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And that’s outside of his class, which I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking at twice now. So many people go out of their way to try and prove that they are “down,” but with Mickey you know immediately that he loves, respects, and studies this culture with every fiber of his being. I rock with him for being a brilliant and caring teacher, but even more so for just being a good man who is clearly invested in the art form that he is teaching. Very rare, but oh so needed. – Reef the Lost Cauze

It’s often said that much of the power of white supremacy lies in the invisibility of whiteness, thus making whiteness visible is key to dismantling white supremacy. A Guest in the House of Hip Hop places a sharp new spotlight on whiteness, showing us previously unseen facets of racism and classism. This is a bold and necessary work. – Rion Amilcar Scott, Winner of the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction 

Mickey Hess’s brilliantly insightful book challenges us to think deeply about what is required of us, both individually and collectively, as we face the challenges of our racial history with greater courage and empathy. A Guest in the House of Hip-Hop is an important, timely book, as well as a terrifically entertaining read. – Paul Edwards, author of How to Rap 1 and 2 and The Concise Guide to Hip-Hop Music

In this fascinating and timely book, Mickey Hess combines personal honesty with a razor-sharp critical perspective, addressing the urgent need for racial learning and unlearning and exploring how hip-hop knowledge can influence our understanding of U.S. culture and improve the ways we co-exist. – Murray Forman, Professor of Media and Screen Studies at Northeastern University and recipient of the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at Harvard University.  

The story of our country, how it came to be, how it came to thrive, is as complex as it is fascinating. To understand this story, it is essential that the issue of race is opened and explored with the brutal honesty that is necessary to induce dialogue, build bridges, and find real answers. I find A Guest In The House of Hip-Hop to be a courageous and sincere effort and I salute Dr. Hess for his dedication to the art form that I have devoted my own life to expanding and preserving. – David “Traum Diggs” Shanks, Writer & Hip-Hop Artist