Kevin Young

  • Professor Plum, with a Candlestick

    VIOLENT AND VIOLATING, plagiarism, the term we now use to describe stealing another’s language, is haunted by further crimes. The meaning of plagiary, as the act was first known, originally included theft not just of words but bodies: Taken from the Latin, plagium meant, and still means in civil law, “the crime of kidnapping,” especially children; plagiary added the idea of stealing a slave, and of seduction, as well as of being “a literary thief.” This final meaning is the one we are most familiar with today, and provides the basis for plagiarism’s biggest defense: What’s the harm? “No, it

  • Unwrapping the Message

    Rap music now has something no one might have predicted when it emerged in the South Bronx in the mid-1970s, often relying on lampposts for power: a history. As had been the case with the blues and jazz that helped birth it, hip-hop is a music of the ever present. Thinking of its mix tapes as material for the archives may give any rebel among us pause. What once was new is now old school.

    But The Anthology of Rap is not exactly interested in curating the sort of formal history that jazz scholars tend to favor. Instead, the excellent editors, Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, have sidestepped