professor and author
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.” Today, he makes a living teaching Hip-Hop and American Culture to the mostly white student body at a private university in New Jersey. Universities offer hundreds of hip-hop courses even as they employ embarrassingly low numbers of black professors. Kanye West has asked white publications to stop writing about hip-hop, and readers are faced with a resurgent white nationalism we hoped we’d conquered. In our fraught moment, A GUEST IN THE HOUSE OF HIP-HOP offers a point of entry for readers committed to racial justice but uncertain about white people’s role in relation to black culture.
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 argues that white people have a responsibility to educate themselves by listening to black voices and then teach other whites to face the ways they benefit from racial injustices.
New Book out November 13, 2018
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. I’m hopeful that these writings will have you falling into one of two categories: recruiter or recruit. Our author, you will see, is clearly a recruiter. I believe his goal is to actively recruit more white allies into our society because he knows that having more people that are able to relate to and appreciate the plight of people of color, the better our world can become. – Masta Ace, from his foreword
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
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 brutal honesty. In this day, when intellectual property and cultural appropriation have reemerged as hot button issues and trending hashtags, Mickey Hess tackles his role as an academic, fan, and advocate of hip-hop music and culture with the 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 given my own life to expand and preserve. – David “Traum Diggs” Shanks, Writer & Hip-Hop Artist