Buy the book on the University of Chicago Press website — here

Buy the book on Amazon (and leave a review!) —  US: here | FR: here | DE: here | UK: here

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“After four decades, the old US cultural copyrights on hip hop have expired. The form has travelled and the style become a planetary phenomenon. This detailed, innovative and exhilarating book tracks their impact across the postcolonial world. At last we have a critical survey that can match the complexity and power of the music.” —Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic


Flip the Script takes us on a marvelous journey from Paris to Berlin, London to Cork, offering a brilliantly textured portrait of European hip hop. Rollefson’s lively readings of performances help us to hear hip hop music as a postcolonial art and practice that can lead us to a more equitable and just future. An inspiring and hopeful book.” —Ellie M. Hisama, Columbia University


“Employing sophisticated theoretical analysis mixed with ample hip-hop savvy, J. Griffith Rollefson deftly explains how hip hop artists not only flip the historical scripts of European colonial authority and narrowly defined national identities, but rip and shred them. Simply stated, this is a powerful book with a killer flow.” —Murray Forman, author of The ‘Hood Comes First


Flip the Script is highly original and ambitious, and a substantial contribution to research on hip hop and postcolonialism. Rollefson combines ethnographic methods with close readings of media texts in a way that allows him to account for both the texture of everyday life in the communities he worked in, and musical and textual details of the art emanating from within those communities.” —Thomas Solomon, University of Bergen

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Should you prefer, you can find the book at these fine brick and mortars — in the US: here | Abroad: here

The University of Chicago Press also offers examination copies to academics who will adopt the text for their classes.  See here for details.


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Review in EuropeNow (Journal of the Council for European Studies, Columbia University)

Written by Séverin Guillard (University Paris Est Créteil) on 1 March 2018

Ultimately, Flip the Script is a dense and ambitious book that will be valuable to a vast array of scholars. It will be particularly useful for those interested in European Studies, as it casts light on the postcolonial and racial dimensions that are often omitted from the analysis of European identities. It will also interest scholars studying globalization and postcolonialism, given its fresh perspective on the circulation of cultural practices, aesthetics, and political models, and the way these elements can contribute to specific local issues. Finally, Flip the Script will push the boundaries of the hip-hop scholarship that has emerged in the last few decades in Anglophone research. In addition to the comparative perspective, that has not yet been extensively explored in Hip-Hop Studies, hip-hop readers will especially appreciate Griffith Rollefson’s effort to go beyond textual analysis of the hip hop works to take account of their musical, visual, and performative dimensions. They will also be interested in the way Flip the Script puts hip-hop works on the same level as academic work, asserting the ability of this music to dialog and renew theory.

… Flip the Script will certainly lay the foundations for collaborative studies that can address the ways in which hip hop renews the identity politics of various countries, not only in Europe, but throughout the world.

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Review in Journal of Popular Music Studies

Written by Meghan Drury (Portland State University) on 1 August 2018

“European cultural politics have been at the forefront of many recent conversations on migration, xenophobia, and nationalism, particularly in the wake of Great Britain’s 2016 decision to exit the European Union. Both scholarly and popular media discussions about the future of the European political order tend to frame their views around populist and nationalist ideologies and therefore fail to acknowledge the significance of longer histories of racialized imperialism and colonial intervention. Although the field of postcolonial studies has linked various forms of cultural production to colonial discourse, few scholars of postcolonialism have seriously examined popular music. Whereas the global reach of hip hop has long been a focus in the overlapping fields of hip hop and popular music studies, scholarship on European hip hop generally has not come under the lens of postcolonialism.

J. Griffith Rollefson’s Flip the Script seeks to fill both gaps with a compelling study of hip hop and postcolonial politics in Berlin, London, and Paris. Rollefson contends that despite (or perhaps in conjunction with) its commercial appeal, European hip hop is an important site of resistance that elucidates “postcolonial paradoxes” or contradictions that emerge in racialized capitalism. As he writes, “Hip hop sits at the confluence of dehumanizing neoliberal globalization and the gritty human realities of postcoloniality” (3). He encourages hip hop scholars to move away from a simplistic “bad hip hop” versus “good hip hop” binary that demonizes materialism and sexism in the genre while elevating artists who demonstrate a heightened political awareness. Using a combination of ethnography and close reading, Rollefson fuses multiple narratives with racial and diasporic identities as well as performance and political economy.

Through first-person accounts of performances, interviews with performers from field work conducted between 2006 and 2008, and descriptive analyses of numerous albums, Flip the Script makes a case for hip hop as a postcolonial art form…

Taken as a whole, Flip the Script is an innovative and dynamic piece of scholarship that lays a valuable foundation for future work connecting the fields of hip hop and postcolonial studies.”

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Review in ScratchedVinyl.com

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Review in Telegraph Books: Telegraph.co.uk

Flip the Script : European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality by J. Griffith Rollefson – Part of the Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology series

In his history of hip-hop, ethnomusicologist J. Griffith Rollefson combines ethnography and music analysis to look at the three foundational cities in the hip-hop world of twenty-first century Europe.

He first explores Paris’s musical response to the National Front in France, then Turkish German groups in Berlin, and finally M.I.A. and other South Asian critiques in London. Throughout, Rollefson shows how African-American expressive cultures, especially rap music and hip-hop culture, are central to minority identity in the UK, France, and Germany, and how music plays a pivotal role as a point of political commentary and action.

He offers great insight into cross-cultural and postcolonial minority experience and the paradoxes of Western modernity, such as the use of a commercialized music as a form of resistance.

This engaging and provocative study helps to show how music can outline the cultural dimensions of ethnicity and race in the modern Western world.

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Joint Review on RoyChristopher.com featuring Flip the Script and Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip-Hop in the United States (NYU Press, 2016)

“The Alterity of Cool”

Written by Roy Christopher on January 24th, 2018

…As Gilroy himself puts it, “the old U.S. cultural copyrights on hip-hop have expired.” Along with the rest of the globe, Europe is in the house. Some of the best at it are based over there. Dizzee Rascal is a native and a hip-hop veteran. Fellow East-Coast emcees M. Sayyid and Mike Ladd relocated separately to Paris years ago. Ex-New Flesh for Old emcee Juice Aleem also holds it down in the UK, among countless others. There’s an entire chapter on Aleem in J. Griffith Rollefson’s Flip the Script: European Hip-hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Sometimes to move ahead, you’ve gotta step back first. Rollefson investigates Aleem’s postcolonialism via pre-Enlightenment performative linguistics. It’s an Afrofuturist alternative history via precolonial tricks and tropes, not unlike Kelley’s reimagining in A Different Drummer. Aleem’s signifyin’ is one of many examples of Rollefson’s arguments regarding the postcoloniality of hip-hop.

Hip-hop has come full circle at present,” South African emcee, Mr. Fat (R.I.P.) once said. “Emcees are like the storytellers of the tribe, graffiti is cave paintings, and the drums of Africa are like turntables: This is our ideology.” (quoted in Neate, 2004, p. 120). Indeed, as hip-hop has moved from around the way to around the world, mapping it requires a deft hand, a def mind, an understanding of the alterity of cool, and a handle on histories other than those in the history books.