H. Samy Alim
H. Samy Alim is the David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, where he is Faculty Director of the UCLA Hip Hop Initiative with Tabia Shawel and Samuel Lamontagne, and editor, with Jeff Chang, of the University of California Press Hip Hop Studies Book Series. Alim has been researching and writing about Hip Hop Culture for over 25 years. His most recent book, Freedom Moves: Hip Hop Knowledges, Pedagogies, and Futures (2023, with Jeff Chang and Casey Wong) travels across generations and beyond borders to understand hip hop’s transformative power as one of the most important cultural movements of our times.
Alim is author or editor of twelve books and has written extensively about Black Language and Hip Hop Culture globally—across the U.S., Spain, and South Africa—in his books, including Street Conscious Rap (1999, with James G. Spady and Charles G. Lee), Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture (2006), Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness (2006, with James G. Spady and Samir Meghelli), Talkin Black Talk (2007, with John Baugh), Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language (2009, with Award Ibrahim and Alastair Pennycook) and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World (2017, with Django Paris).
In his two co-authored, oral histories of Hip Hop Culture with the great James G. Spady, they interviewed many artists, including Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, Queen Latifah, Big Daddy Kane, Scarface, Trina, Ice Cube, Kurupt, Snoop, Eve, Bahamadia, Big Pun, Common, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Chuck D, the Wu-Tang Clan among other legendary artists. In these volumes, they view Hip Hop artists not merely as cultural creators but as cultural theorists whose insights must inform academic theories of Hip Hop. He is currently teaching a Hip Hop course with Chuck D of Public Enemy.
Since 2014, he has been engaged in a long-term ethnographic study of Hip Hop Culture in Cape Town, South Africa, and is co-editor of Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism, and Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2019, with Adam Haupt, Quentin Williams, and Emile Jansen). He is engaged in multiple community projects in South Africa through the UCLA Hip Hop Initiative’s partnership with Heal the Hood and other organizations in Cape Town.
In the area of language and race, he is author of You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Styleshifting in a Black American Speech Community (Duke, 2004), which integrated longitudinal ethnographic analysis with rigorous discourse analysis and quantitative variation. He is also author of Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. (Oxford, 2012, with Geneva Smitherman), which addressed language and racial politics through an examination of former President Barack Obama’s language use and reveals how he is racialized through language in the eyes and ears of the American people. In addition to editing Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race (Oxford, 2016, with John R. Rickford and Arnetha Ball), which grew out of a 2012 symposium that he organized at Stanford University, he is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Language and Race (Oxford, 2020, with Angela Reyes and Paul Kroskrity). He is also Founding Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language (2010) and editor of the Oxford Studies in Language and Race on Oxford University Press.
He has lectured widely across leading universities in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Latin America, written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Philadelphia New Observer and Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo, Egypt), and appeared on MSNBC, BBC, CNN, NPR, and numerous other news outlets.
Alim, H. S., J. Chang & C. P. Wong (eds.) 2023. Freedom Moves: Hip Hop Knowledges, Pedagogies, and Futures. UC Press.
Alim, H. S., Q. Williams, A. Haupt & E. Jansen. 2021. “Kom Khoi San, Kry Trug Jou Land”: Disrupting White Settler Colonial Logics of Language, Race, and Land with Afrikaaps. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 31(2), 194-217.
Alim, H. S., A. Reyes & P. Kroskrity (eds.) 2020. Oxford Handbook of Language and Race. New York: Oxford University Press.
Haupt, A., Q. Williams, H. S. Aim & E. Jansen (eds). 2019. Neva Again: Hip Hop Art, Activism, and Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council Press.
Alim, H. S., J. Lee., L. Mason Carris & Q. Williams. 2018. Linguistic creativity and the production of cisheteropatriarchy: A comparative analysis of improvised rap battles in Los Angeles (United States) and Cape Town (South Africa). Language Sciences. Volume 65.
Haupt, A., Q. Williams & H. S. Alim (eds.) 2018. Hip Hop Activism and Representational Politics, Part Two. Journal of World Popular Music. 5(2), December.
Haupt, A., Q. Williams & H. S. Alim (eds.) 2018. Hip Hop Activism and Representational Politics, Part One. Journal of World Popular Music 5(1), June.
Paris, D. & H. S. Alim. (eds.) 2017. Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.
Alim, H. S., J. R. Rickford & A. F. Ball. (eds.). 2016. Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race. New York: Oxford University Press.
Alim, H. Samy. 2012. Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language and Race in the United States. Oxford University Press. (with Geneva Smitherman), 224 pgs.
Alim, H. Samy, Awad Ibrahim & Alastair Pennycook. (eds.) 2009. Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language. London & New York: Routledge.
Alim, H. Samy and John Baugh. (eds.) 2007. Talkin Black Talk: Language, Education and Social Change. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. 176 pgs.
Alim, H. Samy. 2006. Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture. London & New York: Routledge, 208 pgs.
Spady, James G., H. Samy Alim and Samir Meghelli. 2006. Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness. Philadelphia, PA: Black History Museum, 704 pgs.
Alim, H. Samy. 2004. You Know My Steez: An Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Study of Styleshifting in a Black American Speech Community. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 303 pgs.