Brian Awehali interviews Jeff Chang
Jeff Chang, aka DJ Zen, has been at the epicenter of hip hop for over a decade. In 1993, he co-founded SoleSides (later, Quannum Projects), a staggeringly protean independent label out of Davis, California, whose brainiac impact hit hard, twisting heads in the underground and beyond while helping launch the careers of Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, and Lateef the Truth Speaker. His writing has appeared in the Village Voice, Vibe, Spin, The Nation, Mother Jones, the Washington Post, and more. He was also an organizer of the National Hip Hop Political Convention in 2004.
Chang’s book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation (St. Martin’s Press), is a near-encyclopedic and always lyrical exploration of how a generation marginalized by deindustrialization, globalization, and planned shrinkage turned their abandonment into a vibrant multiracial movement that dramatically transformed America’s musical and cultural landscape. Hip hop’s ongoing struggle to translate its considerable influence into serious polycultural political power is nothing less than the battle to define the soul of the United States in the 21st century.