The Healing Power of Hip Hop
by Raphael Travis Jr.
December 2015, 265pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3130-0
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3131-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

How can Hip Hop culture improve aspects of youth and community well-being?

Using the latest research, real-world examples, and a new theory of healthy development, this book explains Hip Hop culture's ongoing role in helping Black youths to live long, healthy, and productive lives.

In The Healing Power of Hip Hop, Raphael Travis Jr. offers a passionate look into existing tensions aligned with Hip Hop and demonstrates the beneficial quality it can have empowering its audience. His unique perspective takes Hip Hop out of the negative light and shows readers how Hip Hop has benefited the Black community.

Organized to first examine the social and historical framing of Hip Hop culture and Black experiences in the United States, the remainder of the book is dedicated to elaborating on consistent themes of excellence and well-being in Hip Hop, and examining evidence of new ambassadors of Hip Hop culture across professional disciplines. The author uses research-informed language and structures to help the reader fully understand how Hip Hop creates more pathways to health and learning for youth and communities.


  • Connects the latest research conclusions about Hip Hop's influences with actual examples of its practice and applied value in action
  • Identifies education, health and mental health, and afterschool settings as key to promoting health and well-being
  • Disentangles arguments about whether Hip Hop culture is more of a tool for empowerment or a tool for risk promotion
  • Explains Hip Hop's ongoing contributions to health and learning, with attention to the Black community
  • Provides a common language and structure for helping professionals, researchers, and policymakers to organize work related to Hip Hop and well-being
  • Introduces meaningful models, tips, and resources for personal or professional use
  • Offers real-world insights from today's leaders within the Hip Hop Ed movement
Raphael Travis Jr., DrPH, is associate professor of social work at Texas State University in San Marcos. His published works include the articles "Rap Music and the Empowerment of Today’s Youth: Evidence in Everyday Music Listening, Music Therapy, and Commercial Rap Music"; "Empowerment-Based Positive Youth Development: A New Understanding of Healthy Development for African American Youth"; and "Ethnic Identity, Self-Esteem and Variability in Perceptions of Rap Music’s Empowering and Risky Infl uences." Travis holds a doctorate in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan.


"If not as old as hip hop itself, perhaps as diverse in its participants, varied in its interpretations and approaches, and vibrant in its disseminative influence is hip hop scholarship. The most recent and forceful addition to the literature is Raphael Travis’s The Healing Power of Hip Hop. Moving deftly from larger conceptual meta-questions such as identity formation, improvisational aesthetics, the role of popular culture in society, and individual personality development, to situational and pragmatic applications of personal goal attainment strategies, theories of education, mental and physical health promotion, and community empowerment tactics, The Healing Power of Hip Hop is at once energetically theoretical and stimulatingly practical and prescriptive. In this deeply researched work, Travis draws on a wide variety of approaches, concepts, and sources, and displays the added and appreciable talent of conveying his thoughts in prose that will be accessible across a wide range of professions and interests. For its profound originality, rigorous scholarship, and inspiring implications, this book will be appreciatively used and enjoyed by educators, community-builders, researchers, program architects, and implementers, and, of course, hip hop heads who want to know more about the history, present reality, and the promise of at least one suggested possible future of an art form that has enriched their lives and undoubtedly will continue to do so."—Samuel Roberts, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Columbia University; Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University

"Hip Hop can heal. If you're a supporter of Hip Hop, you know that. What Dr. Raphael Travis has done is show that. With the same diligence he used to become one of the leading scholars of Hip Hop education, Dr. Travis has methodically painted the big picture of Hip Hop with numerous individual strokes. With each reference to a song and a lyric in that song, Dr. Travis does what he does best: he educates and empowers the reader with empircal evidence of what they already know . . . Hip Hop is much more than beats and rhymes. Hip Hop can heal."—SaulPaul, Musician with a Message, 2x TEDx Presenter, Author of Dream in 3D

"Raphael Travis has put together a powerful text that challenges the ways that we engage in, and with hip-hop. This work is as engaging as it is informative and is an invaluable resource for anyone in fields related to health and/or human development. Through a frame of healing, this work provides a fresh new landscape. Powerful work!"—Christopher Emdin, Associate Professor of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation and For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y'all Too.

"The Healing Power of Hip Hop bursts forth with challenging and unexpected insights that are fueled by a new and creative set of synaptic connections between the elements of a deeply resonant, modern, and influential cultural tradition and the factors that influence health and healing. Travis peels back layer after layer of hip hop influence to reveal new ways of connecting hip hop to fundamental notions of identity, purpose, mindset, and development that all influence the decisions young people make about their lives, their lifestyles, and their health. I anticipate that this volume will become a bridge not only between the music and anthropology departments on one end of the campus with the public health and medical school at the other end, but will also bridge parts of our consciousness that have also been unfortunately separated."—Neal Halfon, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities; Professor of pediatrics, public health, and public policy at the UCLA Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Public Policy
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