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Jeff Chang (journalist)

Jeff Chang is an American journalist and music critic on hip hop music and culture. His 2005 book, Can't Stop Won't Stop, which won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award, chronicles the early hip hop scene.[1] His writings have appeared in publications such as URB, The Bomb, San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Vibe, Spin, The Nation, and Mother Jones. Chang was the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts + Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford University. [2] In June 2018, the Institute announced in a press release that Chang will leave to become the first vice president of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward. [3]

Jeff Chang
Jeff Chang portrait.jpg
OccupationMusic critic, journalist
Notable awardsAmerican Book Award, North Star News Prize

Chang is of Chinese and Hawaiian descent,[4] and he is a 1985 graduate of ʻIolani School.[5] He was a founding member of the Solesides record label while a DJ at a UC Davis college radio station, which was the home to acts like DJ Shadow and Blackalicious before it was recreated as Quannum Projects without Chang's involvement.

Chang's 2007 book, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, is an anthology of essays and interviews documenting the impact of hip hop beyond music and the "four elements". According to its companion website, following the release of Total Chaos, Chang held a series of public panel discussions to further explore the subject.

In Chang's 2014 book, entitled Who We Be: The Colorization of America, he moves away from hip hop to focus on "the cultural implications of the new American majority"[6] and "the social history, the cultural influence—and the massive selling—of multiculturalism in America over the last thirty years".[7]


Chang is a native Hawaiian of Chinese descent. He was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated from ‘lolani school there, got his bachelor's degree at University of California at Berkeley, and went on to get his master's degree in Asian American studies from University of California at Los Angeles. Chang is currently the executive director of the IDA, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, at Stanford University in Stanford, California. While Chang works at Stanford, his professional career has always revolved around specializing in culture, politics, the arts, and music, specifically hip-hop.

In 1993, Chang co-founded and ran the indie hip hop label SoleSides, which is now known as Quannum Projects. He helped launch the careers of DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, and Lateef the Truth Speaker. Chang sustained the production of over a dozen records, including the "godfathers of gangsta rap" by the Watts Prophets.

The anti-apartheid and the anti-racist movement at the University of California at Berkeley politicized Chang and he worked as a community laborer and student organizer. He also worked as a lobbyist for the students of the California state University systems. Chang has lectured at dozens of colleges, universities, festivals, and institutions in the US and around the world. Chang was an organizer of the inaugural National Hip-Hop Political Convention.

Chang is a USA Ford Fellow in Literature, and has won awards such as the North Star News Prize award, the UTNE Reader award, the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award at Stanford University in 2014 and the 50 Visionaries Changing Your Word award. He has cofounded the CultureStr/ke and ColorLines movements as well. In 2005 he participated in a conversation with Tom Hayden, the social and political activist and director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California, in the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture. In 2007 Chang interviewed U.S. President Barack Obama, for the cover of Vibe magazine. He has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Foreign Policy, n+1, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, and Buzzfeed, among others.

In 2005, Picador published his first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, which won the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. Time stated of the book, "Obsessively researched, beautifully written, Chang’s book is the funky bootleg, B-side remix of the late 20th century American history." The Rolling Stone writer Robert Christgau wrote, "Nothing less than the finest rap history extant." And Vibe magazine's review stated, "When hip hop 101 becomes a requirement, Jeff Chang’s history of the turmoil that begat this beloved culture will be the go to textbook." In 2007, he edited the book Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, a compilation of different artists' interviews and discussions. More recently, Chang authored the book Who We Be: The Colorization of America. Adam Mansbach said that "Who We Be is essential reading – not this season or this year, but until the audacity of post-racism kicks in. Which won’t be happening anytime soon." And Jelani Cobb stated, "With Who We Be Jeff Chang has emerged as a premier chronicler of the broad and unruly narrative of American culture."


  1. ^ The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation. Accessed July 8, 2013.
  2. ^ {}. Accessed February 19, 2014.
  3. ^ "IDA Bids Farewell To Executive Director Jeff Chang | Institute for Diversity in the Arts". Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  4. ^ The Editor. Total Chaos
  5. ^ Alumni Making Headlines. Iolani School. Accessed August 19, 2008.
  6. ^ "Author Bios – Jeff Chang", The Nation. Retrieved on February 24, 2012.
  7. ^ "Jeff Chang", Retrieved on February 24, 2012.

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