Rose, Tricia

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ROSE, Tricia


Female. Born in New York, NY; married Andre C. Willis (a professor). Education: Yale University, B.A. (sociology), 1984; Brown University, M.A. and Ph.D. (American civilization), 1993.


Office—University of California, Santa Cruz, Oakes College, No, 335, 150 Heller Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1014. E-mail—[email protected]


New York University, New York, NY, assistant professor of history and Africana studies, until 2002; University of California, Santa Cruz, professor of American studies, 2002—, department chair, 2003—.


Rockefeller Foundation Afro-American fellowship to Princeton University, 1993-94; American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1995, for Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America; Goddard fellowship, New York University, 1996; American Association of University Women fellowship (declined), 1996-97; Ford Foundation fellowship, 1996-97; Golden Dozens Teaching Award, New York University, 1998.


Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1994.

(Editor, with Andrew Ross) Microphone Fiends: Youth Music and Youth Culture, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994.

Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality and Intimacy, Farrar, Strauss (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to books, including Sociology of Culture, edited by Elizabeth Long, Blackwell Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998. Contributor of articles and book reviews to periodicals, including Artforum, Boston Book Review, Crisis, Essence, Time, Vibe, Village Voice, and Women's Review of Books.


Tricia Rose received the American Book Award for Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, "an excellent treatment of rap as a social construction," according to Kurt Hemmer in MELUS. Rose, recognized as the first person in the United States to write a Ph.D. dissertation on rap music, has also published Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality and Intimacy, a critically acclaimed collection of oral histories.

Black Noise appeared in 1994, one year after Rose finished her thesis. Venise Berry, writing in American Music, described Black Noise as "a timely critique of the musical, social, and cultural relationships between rap music, black culture, and American society." In her work Rose examines the historical evolution of rap, its technological innovations, and the racial, cultural, and sexual politics of the genre. Black Noise is "the single best volume on rap music and culture," observed Timothy D. Taylor in TDR, "mainly because it cuts through so much of the mystification and criticism of rap." Notes reviewer Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., called the work "an engaging and provocative attempt to explain 'the noise' that is—and that surrounds—rap music. Written partly as an answer to the ill-informed media coverage that has dominated rap discourse, Rose brings a fresh perspective to the discussion."

In Black Noise, Rose presents rap as an original musical form arising from specific economic and cultural conditions. As Houston A. Baker stated in the African American Review, "Rose argues that rap is a unique expressive cultural response by black and Hispanic youth to the miseries of postindustrial urban America." "Rose intends to locate hip-hop culture's position in 'deindustrialization,'" Kurt Hemmer remarked in MELUS, "and examines the complexities of inner-city youths creating a world for themselves from the materials that have been left to them." As Rose herself writes in Black Noise, "In the postindustrial urban context of dwindling low-income housing, a trickle of meaningless jobs for young people, mounting police brutality, and increasingly draconian depictions of young inner city residents, hip hop is black urban renewal."

Black Noise was praised for offering a wide spectrum of ideas, as well as for its high level of scholarship. In Taylor's view, "One of the best things about the book is its complex, layered analysis. Rose does not attempt to situate rap music and culture in general into some kind of monolithic 'black aesthetic'; instead, she examines rap as 'a complex fusion of orality and post-modern technology.'" In American Music, Berry stated: "The book analyzes rap in its cultural context with clarity and passion. It is convincing in its arguments, significant examples and explanations are included, and the writing style is powerfully expressive."

Seven years in the making, Longing to Tell is "the first compilation of black women's oral histories about all aspects of sexuality," remarked New York Times contributor Felicia R. Lee. "This work began as an attempt to answer a scholarly question: how has the history of race, class, and gender inequality in this country affected the way that black women talk about their sexual lives?" Rose notes in the book's foreword. To answer that question, she interviewed more than fifty women of various ages and social classes from all over the United States who represent a variety of sexual experiences and orientations; twenty of these personal testimonies are featured in the work.

Rose divides Longing to Tell into three subcategories: "Through the Fire" examines growth and survival; "Guarded Heart" concerns women at vulnerable stages of their lives; and "Always Something Left to Love" features tales of hope. "As with any genuine work, the stories linger," stated Newsweek Online reviewer Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. "One might say that Rose found herself twenty remarkable black women, but it's more likely that ordinary black women are in dire need of this kind of time and attention and space." As Rose told Metro Online contributor Todd Inoue, her hope is that African-American women "are able to see in these rich stories that elements of their life experiences are part of a vast collective, so they don't feel like they're alone, targeted, isolated in experiences that never get talked about or talked about in ways that they don't experience. There's nothing more powerful than recognition—to see parts of yourself recognized in the social landscape. If someone can see you for who you are and appreciate that—or you see that someone else is experiencing things that help you feel like you belong—that's the most powerful thing in the world."



African American Review, winter, 1995, Houston A. Baker, Jr., review of Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, pp. 671-673.

American Music, summer, 1996, Venise Berry, review of Black Noise, pp. 231-233; fall, 1996, Joanna Bosse, review of Microphone Fiends: Youth Music and Youth Culture, pp. 387-389.

Black Issues Book Review, July-August, 2003, Susan McHenry, "Let's Talk about Sex!," pp. 40-46.

Booklist, April 15, 1994, Aaron Cohen, review of Black Noise, p. 1498; February 15, 1995, Ray Olson, review of Black Noise, p. 1049; May 15, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality and Intimacy, p. 1622.

Choice, December, 1994, D. R. de Lerma, review of Black Noise, p. 613.

Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 1994, Liz McMillen, "A Hot Author's Grasp of Rap and Black Culture," p. A6.

Contemporary Sociology, May, 1995, Paulla A. Ebron, review of Black Noise, pp. 400-401.

Essence, July, 2003, Diane Patrick, review of Longing to Tell, p. 106.

Journal of Communication, spring, 1996, Stephen Duncombe, review of Black Noise, pp. 165-169.

Library Journal, May 1, 1994, Bill Piekarsky, review of Black Noise, p. 106; April 1, 2003, Antoinette Brinkman, review of Longing to Tell, pp. 117-118.

MELUS, fall, 1998, Kurt Hemmer, "Look Who's Listenin': Rap, Black Culture, and the Academy," p. 232.

New York Times, October 18, 2003, Felicia R. Lee, "Class with the 'Ph.D. Diva,'" p. B7.

Notes, December, 1995, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., review of Black Noise, pp. 424-427.

Popular Music, January, 1995, Thomas Swiss, review of Black Noise, pp. 135-136; May, 1995, Steve Redhead, review of Microphone Fiends, pp. 277-279.

Publishers Weekly, March 28, 1994, review of Black Noise, pp. 93-94; May 16, 1994, review of Microphone Fiends, p. 61; April 7, 2003, review of Longing to Tell, p. 53.

Rolling Stone, December 29, 1994, Mark Coleman, review of Black Noise, pp. 64-65.

TDR, summer, 1997, Timothy D. Taylor, review of Black Noise and Microphone Fiends, pp. 163-170.

Washington Post, August 6, 2003, Teresa Wiltz, "Places in the Heart Revealed," p. C03.

Women's Review of Books, October, 2003, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, "First-person Stories," pp. 13-15.


Metro Online, (July 10-16, 2003), Todd Inoue, "Get Real."

Newsweek Online, (May 29, 2003), Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, "Review the Healing Power of Conversation."

Tricia Rose Home Page, (April 20, 2004).

University of California, Santa Cruz Web site, (April 20, 2004), "Tricia Rose."*