Excerpt fromAnd It Don't Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Yearsby Raquel Cepeda. Copyright 2004 by Raquel Cepeda. Published in September, 2004 by Faber and Faber, Inc. An affiliate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Introduction My torrid love affair with hip-hop began when I was a young girl growing up in the Inwood section of Upper Manhattan. I was transfixed by the graffiti art of Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quinones MARE, and the Manhattan Subway Kings, who were native to my neighborhood. I was overwhelmed by Red Alert's raspy voice on 98.7 Kiss FM, spinning the freshest joints at the time, and by the dancing's acrobatics and fierceness. While my neighborhood was fairly popular, or ratherinfamous, due to the graffiti, gang violence, break dancing that was ever present in the park adjoining the Dyckman projects, and the occasional film crew, we were clueless that hip-hop would one day leave the ghetto to go live with the Jeffersons. Not even when the larger-than-life TV star Lorenzo Lamas bum-rushed my babysitter's block to shoot a scene using real gang membersthe Ball Bustersas extras for the saccharineBody Rockflick did I think that hip-hop would survive this cheesy marauding by Hollywood. While I did notice the occasional tourist snapping photos of the graffiti art that enveloped Inwood Park's baseball fields in the early eighties, neither my peers nor I imagined that our love of the genre, this pedagogy of the oppressed, would morph into a billion-dollar industry. I was wrong. My foray into writing came in front of the mic as a spoken-word artist--a hair over a decade ago--when New York City was burgeoning with a raw underground rendering of what would become a Def Poetry jam. Spoken-word artists were, like the journalists of the decade, using rap music and hip-hop culture as a societal reflector because the genre was, in turn, defining our generation. The contradictions that existed in rap music and its participants (including yours truly), the misogyny, sex, love, hate, the schisms, were among the topics we used to move the crowd. Poets often shared the stage with rappers like The Fugees, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Freestyle Fellowship, The Roots, and some of their forefathers like Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets. Some of us parlayed our thoughts into long-form, some of us became authors, and others, HBO fixtures. This was the beginning of hip-hop journalism--a genre unto itself that would afford many of us poets-cum-journalists a way to marry our love of words and the music into potentially lucrative careers. Twenty-five years after the release of Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," the firstBillboard-charted rap single-but certainly not the first rap recordthere is even an argument to be made for hip-hop writing's adoption as a sixth element of the culturebehind deejaying, emceeing, dancing, graffiti, and fashion--due to its critical role in archiving and reporting the history, present, and undoubtedly the future of hip-hop. It would also be fair to say hip-hop journalism is, in fact, an extension of rap music. As a verbal art form, the writings are illustrations of vivid landscapessome sensational, some introspective, some fantastical, some of which are slices of inner-city blues, and many of which are recanted with lyrical masterthat are narratives all the same. This medley of literary biscuits, collected inAnd It Don't Stop, is more than just a reader, or an accessory of must-have articles for your library. It's a critical journey, exploring an unprecedented relationship between artist and journalistchurch and stateand includes some of the very first hip-hop features, along with controversial articles that created rifts between hip-hop artists and the journalists who covered them, as well as thCepeda, Raquel is the author of 'And It Don't Stop The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last Twenty-Five Years', published 2004 under ISBN 9780571211593 and ISBN 0571211593.