chapter  5
26 Pages

Hype, Hip-Hop, and Heartbreak: Th e Rise and Fall of Kwame


In the summer of 2003, the Hip-Hop generation witnessed a unique political moment in Detroit, Michigan. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who at age thirty-one was the youngest person ever elected to the offi ce, made a cameo appearance in a video welcoming more than 90,000 Hip-Hop fans to an all-star concert. Th is event was held at the new Ford football stadium and hosted by the rapper Eminem, star of the Detroit-based movie Eight Mile (Watkins 2005). As the birthplace of

the Motown sound that inspired Black activism in the 1960s and 1970s, Detroit was already known for its legendary ability to blend politics and popular culture (Smith 1999). So, it is no surprise that it produced the fi rst Black leader to don the title of “Hip-Hop Mayor.” Kilpatrick artfully employed the symbols and language of Hip-Hop, his generation’s culture, to convey ownership over the city’s future and to rebrand the image of Black politics in the post-Civil Rights era.