Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State has been sending hip hop artists abroad to perform and teach as goodwill ambassadors. There are good reasons for this: hip hop is known and loved across the globe, acknowledged and appreciated as a product of American culture. Hip hop has from its beginning been a means of creating community through artistic collaboration, fostering what hip hop artists call building. A timely study of U.S. diplomacy, Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World reveals the power of art to bridge cultural divides, facilitate understanding, and express and heal trauma. Yet power is never single-edged, and the story of hip hop diplomacy is deeply fraught. Drawing from nearly 150 interviews with hip hop artists, diplomats, and others in more than 30 countries, Build explores the inescapable tensions and ambiguities in the relationship between art and the state, revealing the ethical complexities that lurk behind what might seem mere goodwill tours. Author Mark Katz makes the case that hip hop, at its best, can promote positive, productive international relations between people and nations. A U.S.-born art form that has become a voice of struggle and celebration worldwide, hip hop has the power to build global community when it is so desperately needed.
In Build, Mark Katz provides a riveting account of hip hop diplomacy featuring its full range of cultural epiphanies, empowerment of artists, contradictions, tensions, and ambivalences. From Indonesia to Guatemala, Algeria, Senegal, Uganda, Brazil, and Croatia, the Next Level exchange program continued the long tradition of African American music as the best international representative of American creativity and freedom. * Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University * This book is the voice of a reporter from the field - who broke bread with artists and local communities, listened, asked questions, admitted what he did not know, and navigated bureaucracy with principle, character and a fierce commitment to humanity. As we say in hip hop, Katz is a real one and so is Build! * Toni Blackman, MC, educator, first U.S. State Department hip hop cultural envoy * I met Mark during my tenure at the Next Level exchange program when I went to Serbia to spread hip hop through diplomacy. His love and respect for hip hop culture was evident to me the more we talked. He's a great guy who has a knowledge and understanding of the culture and that permeates throughout Build. Thank you, Mark, for giving me memories I'll never forget. Salute to you Money Mark!!! * Diamond D, hip hop producer and MC, founding member of the Diggin' in the Crates crew *