Dated Emcees

Dated Emcees

Press Reviews

Los Angeles Review of Books

"In her new collection Dated Emcees, Hodge plays tour guide while leading the reader through scenes of treachery, regret, and short-lived enchantment. These poems contain the voices of violent and desperate communities where rapping or playing ball are the only means of escape. . . . In many of the poems we're being told about emcees by an emcee. Hodge is not just a potential character in these poems, but a master of ceremonies and harbinger of music."––Derrick Harriell

Mutha Magazine

"Chinaka continues to bear witness with brilliance to all the fierceness and struggle of what it is to be black and female, as part of what it is to be human and attuned to the world."––Aya de Leon

The Los Angeles Review

"Dated Emcees moves beyond the fun of its title's dual conceit and into a fierce exploration of racial and identity politics. . . . Dated Emcees successfully tracks these dualities throughout—black/white, groupie/lover, dating/dated, a black man from Oakland gunned down at a train station/a black man from Oakland becomes an award winning filmmaker. Hodges questions, puns, and probes these paradoxes in a fiery, personal voice, always locked in to the beat."––Danny Caine


"Dated Emcees, the debut book of poetry by Chinaka Hodge, is a rich and mouthwatering treat for those of us brought up and still in love with the sweetness of hip-hop. These tight and playful poems about breakups and breakbeats (written with superb line breaks) have the lyrical swagger of a young Wanda Coleman. Even the book's title has a double meaning: Dated emcees who are no longer relevant and literal emcees she once dated. In 'life is good’ Hodge writes, ‘before i peeled off the vow / left not a gotdamned thing / in that house of yours / save your chiffon dear john / i did put it on once more / stared down the door / told myself if you beat sun up / maybe we can talk / i watched a pale green sky clap dawn into queens / put on my boyfriend jeans / and / left.’ The collection also features many layered metaphors, incorporating lyrics from various rap songs over the years—a treat for those familiar with such legends as Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. Hodge is developing a style all her own, both solemn and celebratory. To paraphrase Digable Planets, she’s cool like that."––Amber Tamblyn

The Rumpus

"Chinaka Hodge will break your heart, she'll make you angry, she’ll make you guilty; but mostly, she’ll tell you the truth. Her confessions of heartbreak in Dated Emcees will speak to those who have loved, lost, and re-found themselves in the small places between the punchlines."––Amanda Hildebrand

The Mercury News

"Oakland poet/rapper/playwright Chinaka Hodge, a favorite of Dave Eggers and Hamilton star Daveed Diggs, examines her life in this tender and hard-hitting collection of 25 poems. This is autobiography as hip-hop narrative, and it sings."––Georgia Rowe

East Bay Express

"[T]he real hook is that, in laying out her unconditional love for both Black men and hip-hop, Hodge also reserves space to critique gender roles and power dynamics in the accompanying culture, bravely allowing those two stances to exist in the same emotional choreography."––Sarah Burke

Rebellious Magazine

"[Chinaka Hodge] states her claim in the space of words and beats with lines that require being read out loud . . . Love, depicted by Hodge in not always straightforward terms, is not meaningless because it's mysterious or messy; it is cryptic, poignant, painful (even antsy) and beautiful. . . . If you're at all like me, these poems will woo you, leave you fluttering and pondering, saddened by, touched by, and in love with the world of this poet."––Jera Brown

Publishers Weekly

"Cleverly shifting hip-hop's traditionally masculine focus, Hodge underscores the overlooked stories of women via persona poems ripe with color and sharp imagery. The strength of her speakers' voices are particularly noteworthy in the first-person poems, the women loving the voices of the men who surround them, but standing powerfully on their own. She also makes reference to anonymous working mothers and notable women and girls such as Erykah Badu, Kelis, and Blue Ivy Carter. Hodge’s impressive sense of line control and allusions to the genre may remind readers of Ntozake Shange. Despite the dated of the title, this is a timely collection."


"Ultimately, this is a book that begs to be read over and over, like a favorite album that you play morning 'til night, until you know the lyrics, secret messages, and hard-won insights as intimately as you know your own beating heart. Dated Emcees is another gem from one of Oakland’s best."––Leilani Clark


"The lyrical exuberance of poet and playwright Hodge has been showcased on stage and on screen, including many appearances on HBO's Def Poetry Jam as well as The Breakbeat Poets (2015). The double meaning of her first collection allude to the speaker in Hodge’s poems having relationships with figureheads of hip-hop, from well-known rappers to broke-down hustlers, and having grown up during the genre’s golden age. But Hodge backs away from nostalgia and instead confronts the frustrating difficulty of coming-of-age as a black woman in America. She leverages the server weight of misfortune through innovative, unforgettable language ('we had a fire in the house / everything curled into damage’), and unexpected imagery (‘His thoughts are ivory that protrude from the center / of his head’). In ‘Drake questions the deceased, Vegas,’ Hodge transports twenty-first century R&B icon Drake to the site of Tupac’s murder in Sin City, delivering a devastating homage: ‘if you had been taught fame / was a fate crime against black men, / would you have still stepped in the booth?’"––Diego Baez

Oakland Magazine

"Chinaka Hodge is a brilliant poet, playwright, screenwriter, and educator from Oakland. In Dated Emcees she lays everything out on the page as she writes about her love life and hip-hop, intertwining them in a raw and powerful way. Her words evoke honest emotions as she confronts the difficulties of coming-of-age as a black woman in America. Hodge blurs the line between lived and imagined experience, and creates a new and inventive narrative that showcases her passion for hip-hop. She writes about difficult topics, and her voice shines through in a direct, confrontational, honest tone. Her poems are a breath of fresh, honest air, and her words will stay with you long after you read them."––Zoe Jennings and Judith M. Gallman