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list Nov 10 2016 Written by

The Ultimate Hip Hop Book Directory

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“People don’t realize how a whole life can be changed by one book” – Malcolm X

“You don’t see with your eyes, you see with your brain. And the more words your brain has, the more things you can see” – KRS One

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr Seuss

"Hip Hop Raised Me" (2016) - DJ Semtex

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The definitive volume capturing the essence, experience and energy that is Hip Hop and its massive and enduring impact over the last forty years

Hip Hop Raised Me is the definitive volume on the essence, experience, and energy that is Hip Hop, and its massive and enduring impact over the last forty years. It’s packed with contact sheets, outtakes, and glory shots of artists, collectives, and fans from iconic photographers including Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Eddie Otchere, Normski, Janette Beckman, Chi Modu, Nabil Elderkin, and Mark Humphrey, as well as photographs of hip-hop ephemera and vinyl courtesy of specialist collectors.

With the help of his definitive catalogue of interviews with Hip Hop artists from the 1990s to today, conducted at key moments in their careers and including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Drake, Nicki Minaj, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Semtex examines the crucial role of Hip Hop in society. He reflects on the huge influence it has had on his own life and the lives of many others, providing inspiration to generation after generation of young people.

Taking a thematic approach, Semtex traces the characteristics and influence of Hip Hop from its origins in the early 1970s with DJ Kool Herc’s block parties in the South Bronx, through its breakthrough to the mainstream and advent of gangsta rap in the late 1980s, with artists such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, and Ice T, to the impact of contemporary artists and the global industry that is Hip Hop today. 1000+ illustrations, 800 in color.

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"From the Streets to the Industry - My Life & Art on Death Row Records" (2016) - Riskie Forever

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This is the story of Ronald “Riskie” Brent, a man who rose from the fabled streets of Compton to the hallowed halls of Death Row Records, the most celebrated rap music label of its time. Riskie Forever – From the Streets to the Industry – My Life and Art on Death Row Records reveals Riskie’s struggle to develop as an artist and his ultimate triumph as the painter behind some of Hip Hop’s most iconic images.This book is a time capsule of one of the most important eras in American popular music. Within its pages are the stories behind the artwork of 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me and Makaveli’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Snoop Dogg’s Tha Doggfather, Nate Dogg’s G Funk Classics Vol. 1 & 2, and many more albums blessed by Riskie’s artistry over the past two decades.

The pages are covered with Riskie’s sketches, drawings, paintings, and photographs, many of which have never before been seen by the general public. Riskie Forever, available in a 246-page full-color large format hardcover or ebook edition, is itself a work of art. Riskie worked for months writing the text, designed the book’s cover, compiled his life’s work, and arranged the best of his designs throughout. It is not just Riskie’s story either. Leila Steinberg, who discovered 2Pac, provides a thoughtful introduction and many people whose lives Riskie has touched, including members of the Outlawz, wrote tributes to Riskie for the book.

The publication of this newly expanded edition of Riskie Forever is the culmination of a long journey – one any fan of Hip Hop music and art will want to explore with Riskie.

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"Marvel: The Hip-Hop Covers Vol. 1" (2016) - Marvel Comics

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Watch creative worlds collide like never before in the ultimate fusion of Hip Hop and the House of Ideas! With an introduction by award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates – a National Book Award winner, a recent MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and the writer of Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER – this stunning volume showcases 70 comic-book covers inspired by some of the most iconic albums in music history.

Experience page after page of incredible artwork featuring the heroes of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe – from A-Force to the X-Men – by an unbelievable roster of talent including Adam Hughes, Brian Stelfreeze, Jim Cheung, Mike Del Mundo, Sanford Greene, Jenny Frison, Phil Noto, Mahmud Asrar, Damion Scott, Tim Bradstreet, Keron Grant, Ed Piskor and more! Their finished covers sit side-by-side with behind-the-scenes sketches, showing the process of rendering some of the most famous images in Hip Hop, Marvel style. Straight outta comics – and onto your bookshelf!

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"Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap" (2016) - Ben Westhoff

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“Raw, authoritative, and unflinching … An elaborately detailed, darkly surprising, definitive history of the LA gangsta rap era.”—Kirkus, starred review

A monumental, revealing narrative history about the legendary group of artists at the forefront of West Coast hip-hop: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.

Amid rising gang violence, the crack epidemic, and police brutality, a group of unlikely voices cut through the chaos of late 1980s Los Angeles: N.W.A. Led by a drug dealer, a glammed-up producer, and a high school kid, N.W.A gave voice to disenfranchised African Americans across the country. And they quickly redefined pop culture across the world. Their names remain as popular as ever–Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Dre soon joined forces with Suge Knight to create the combustible Death Row Records, which in turn transformed Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur into superstars.

Ben Westhoff explores how this group of artists shifted the balance of Hip Hop from New York to Los Angeles. He shows how N.W.A.’s shocking success lead to rivalries between members, record labels, and eventually a war between East Coast and West Coast factions. In the process, Hip Hop burst into mainstream America at a time of immense social change, and became the most dominant musical movement of the last thirty years. At gangsta rap’s peak, two of its biggest names–Tupac and Biggie Smalls–were murdered, leaving the surviving artists to forge peace before the genre annihilated itself.

Featuring extensive investigative reporting, interviews with the principal players, and dozens of never-before-told stories, Original Gangstas is a groundbreaking addition to the history of popular music.

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"Hip Hop Headphones: A Scholar’s Critical Playlist" (2016) - James Braxton Peterson

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Hip Hop Headphones is a crash course in Hip Hop culture. Featuring definitions, lectures, academic essays, and other scholarly discussions and resources, Hip Hop Headphones documents the scholarship of Dr. James B. Peterson, founder of Hip Hop Scholars-an organization devoted to developing the educational potential of Hip Hop.

Defining Hip Hop from multi-disciplinary perspectives that embrace the elemental forms of Hip Hop Culture (b-boying, dj-ing, rapping, and graffiti art), Hip Hop Headphones is the definitive guide to how Hip Hop culture can be used in the classroom to engage and inspire students.

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"Hip Hop Family Tree Book 4: 1984-1985 (Vol. 4) (Hip Hop Family Tree)" (2016) - Ed Piskor

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In the latest volume of the history of Hip Hop told in graphic novel form, we are introduced to characters such as Dr. Dre, Will Smith, Salt-N-Peppa (some of whom were featured in the hit summer movie, Straight Out of Compton), and many more.

Book 4 charts the rise of Dr. Dre and Def Jam records, and introduces new branches on the “tree”: Will Smith, Salt-N-Pepa, Rakim, and Biz Markie. This volume is also jam-packed with films Hollywood released in an attempt to cash in on the phenomenon, like Breakin’, Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo, Beat Street, Krush Groove and more. Full color illustrations throughout.

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"Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide: A Memoir" (2016) - Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

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In this surprising and moving memoir, the legendary rap star and co-founder of Run D.M.C. keeps it a hundred percent, speaking out about his battle with depression and overcoming suicidal thoughts—one of the most devastating yet little-known health issues plaguing the black community today.

As one-third of the legendary rap group Run D.M.C., Darryl “DMC” McDaniels—aka Legendary MC, The Devastating Mic Controller, and the King of Rock—had it all: talent, money, fame, prestige. While hitting #1 on the Billboard charts was exhilarating, the group’s success soon became overwhelming. A creative guy who enjoyed being at home alone or with his family, DMC turned to alcohol to numb himself, a retreat that became an addiction. For years, he went through the motions. But in 1997, when intoxication could no longer keep the pain at bay, he plunged into severe depression and became suicidal. He wasn’t alone. During the same period, suicide became the number three leading cause of death among black people—a health crisis that continues to this day.

In this riveting memoir, DMC speaks openly about his emotional and psychological struggles and the impact on his life, and addresses the many reasons that led him—and thousands of others—to consider suicide. Some of the factors include not being true to who you are, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation, and a lack of understanding and support from friends and family when it’s needed most. He also provides essential information on resources for getting help. Revealing how even the most successful people can suffer from depression, DMC offers inspiration for everyone in pain—information and insight that he hopes can help save other lives.

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"Geto Boys' The Geto Boys (33 1/3)" (2016) - Rolf Potts

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The Geto Boys is a welcome addition to the 33 1/3 canon, as it brings some much-needed diversity on several levels…Potts delivers a strong history lesson that is well-researched and gives the Geto Boys their due as hip-hop pioneers. — Houston Press

At the outset of summer in 1990, a Houston gangsta rap group called the Geto Boys was poised to debut its self-titled third album under the guidance of Hip Hop guru Rick Rubin. What might have been a low-profile remix release from a little-known corner of the rap universe began to make headlines when the album’s distributor refused to work with the group, citing its violent and depraved lyrics. When The Geto Boys was finally released, chain stores refused to stock it, concert promoters canceled the group’s performances, and veteran rock critic Robert Christgau declared the group “sick motherfuckers.”

One-quarter of a century later the album is considered a hardcore classic, having left an immutable influence on gangsta rap, horrorcore, and the rise of Southern Hip Hop.

Charting the rise of the Geto Boys from the earliest days of Houston’s rap scene, Rolf Potts documents a moment in music history when Hip-Hop was beginning to replace rock as the transgressive sound of American youth. In creating an album that was both sonically innovative and unprecedentedly vulgar, the Geto Boys were accomplishing something that went beyond music. To paraphrase a sentiment from Don DeLillo, this group of young men from Houston’s Fifth Ward ghetto had figured out the “language of being noticed” – which is, in the end, the only language America understands.

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"Diary of a Madman: The Geto Boys, Life, Death, and the Roots of Southern Rap" (2015) - Brad "Scarface" Jordan

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“Remarkable collaboration . . . By the end of this immensely readable book, you may not be convinced that Scarface is one of the best producers in the game (as he does), but you’ll never forget that he’s one of the best storytellers.” (Rolling Stone, Best Music Books of 2015)

“Predictably, [the book is] dope. . . . At long last, ’Face has broken his offstage silence and dished the goods . . . about as complete a self-portrait of the intensely private MC that we’re ever likely to get.” (Houston Press)

“A remarkable personal memoir as well as an insightful study of the circumstances that have established hip-hop in the popular imagination.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

From Geto Boys legend and renowned storyteller Scarface, comes a passionate memoir about how Hip Hop changed the life of a kid from the south side of Houston, and how he rose to the top-and ushered in a new generation of rap dominance. 
Scarface is the celebrated rapper whose hits include “On My Block,” “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” (made famous in the cult film Office Space). The former president of Def Jam South, he’s collaborated with everyone from Kanye West, Ice Cube and Nas, and had many solo hits such as “Guess Who’s Back” feat. Jay-Z and “Smile” feat. Tupac. But before that, he was a kid from Houston in love with rock-and-roll, listening to AC/DC and KISS.

In Diary of a Madman, Scarface shares how his world changed when he heard Run DMC for the first time; how he dropped out of school in the ninth grade and started selling crack; and how he began rapping as the new form of music made its way out of New York and across the country. It is the account of his rise to the heights of the rap world, as well as his battles with his own demons and depression. Passionately exploring and explaining the roots and influences of rap culture, Diary of a Madman is the story of Hip Hop -the music, the business, the streets, and life on the south side Houston, Texas.

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"Check the Technique: Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies" (2015) - Brain Coleman

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Twenty-Five classic albums from the 1980s and 90s are lovingly and extensively profiled by acclaimed rap journalist Brian Coleman in this impressive volume, making it mandatory reading for all Hip Hop junkies. Think you know something about the history of this revolutionary American art form? Think again – you ll be left wondering how you lived without this resource until now.

Coleman digs deep and finds the whys and wherefores, providing not only incredible context for each album, but direct access to the minds of their creators. Over the course of twenty-five chapters, more than 80 interviews and the dissection of 325 seminal tracks, this book will provide years of fact-checking enjoyment. Featuring interviews with, and analysis of tracks by: Ice Cube, Naughty by Nature, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, 3rd Bass, Raekwon, The Coup, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Mantronix, Black Sheep, Smif-N-Wessun, Dr. Octagon, Stetsasonic, Gravediggaz, Company Flow and 11 more.

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"The Dirty Version: On Stage, in the Studio, and in the Streets with Ol' Dirty Bastard" (2015) - Buddha Monk

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“An unprecedented portrait of Jones’ inner life.” (Salon)

“Monk captures [ODB’s] charisma and charm, but also the joy and pain that fame brought [him], as well as the drugs, the women and the demise. It’s a great work in honor of an individual who tried to walk the best line he could.” (Ebony)

“Cuts through the urban legends to present more complex sides to the infamous icon.” (i.-D. Magazine)

“Monk is a genial narrator and provides an authentic look at the N.Y.C. hip-hop scene [and] a unique perspective on the troubled life of an intriguing artist.” (Publishers Weekly)

On the tenth anniversary of his death, The Dirty Version is the first biography of Hip Hop superstar and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, to be written by someone from his inner circle: his right-hand man and best friend, Buddha Monk.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard rocketed to fame with the Wu-Tang Clan, the raucous and renegade group that altered the world of Hip Hop forever. ODB was one of the Clan’s wildest icons and most inventive performers, and when he died of an overdose in 2004 at the age of thirty-five, millions of fans mourned the loss. ODB lives on in epic proportions and his antics are legend: he once picked up his welfare check in a limousine; lifted a burning car off a four-year-old girl in Brooklyn; stole a fifty-dollar pair of sneakers on tour at the peak of his success. Many have questioned whether his stunts were carefully calculated or the result of paranoia and mental instability.

Now, Dirty’s friend since childhood, Buddha Monk, a Wu-Tang collaborator on stage and in the studio, reveals the truth about the complex and talented performer. From their days together on the streets of Brooklyn to the meteoric rise of Wu-Tang’s star, from bouts in prison to court-mandated rehab, from Dirty’s favorite kind of pizza to his struggles with fame and success, Buddha tells the real story—The Dirty Version—of the legendary rapper.

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"Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove" (2015) - Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson

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“You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest motherf*****s on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.” –Robert Christgau

Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, Hip Hop, and pop culture.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last Hip Hop band on Earth. Mo’ Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of Hip Hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D’Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to…you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!?

But Mo’ Meta Blues isn’t just a memoir. It’s a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It’s a book that questions what a book like Mo’ Meta Blues really is. It’s the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.

It’s a rare gift that gives as well as takes.

It’s a record that keeps going around and around.

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"The Killing of Tupac Shakur Paperback" (2015) - Cathy Scott

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Cathy Scott’s biography remains the seminal account of iconic rapper Tupac Shakur’s life and legacy following his still-unsolved murder in Las Vegas.

It’s been almost 20 years since poet, revolutionary, convict, and movie star, Tupac Amaru Shakur (a.k.a 2Pac, Makaveli, or simply ’pac), was gunned down at age 25 while he sat in traffic with Suge Knight near the Las Vegas Strip following a Mike Tyson fight at MGM Grand. In the new updated and expanded third edition of this acclaimed biography, Las Vegas crime writer Cathy Scott has finally been able to include the previously unpublished chapter featuring the account of that last fateful night from “Big Frank,” the rapper’s now-deceased personal bodyguard.

The raw no-holds-barred narrative, which includes exclusive photo evidence (including of Tupac’s autopsy), is the definitive account of the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur: the many possible motives, the failed investigation, the rap wars, the killing of Biggie Smalls, the Bloods-Crips connection, the Suge Knight and Death Row Records association, and the subsequent fate of numerous principals involved in the aftermath. It is also a sensitive, candid, and insightful account of the contradictory icon who remains not only one of the most influential rappers ever but, with more than 75 million records sold worldwide, he’s also one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

The music of Tupac Shakur is the legacy of his life. The Killing of Tupac Shakur is the legacy of his death.

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"The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed (2015) - Shea Serrano & Arturo Torres

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Here’s what The Rap Year Book does: It takes readers from 1979, widely regarded as the moment rap became recognized as part of the cultural and musical landscape, and comes right up to the present, with Shea Serrano hilariously discussing, debating, and deconstructing the most important rap song year by year. Serrano also examines the most important moments that surround the history and culture of rap music–from artists’ backgrounds to issues of race, the rise of Hip Hop, and the struggles among its major players–both personal and professional. Covering East Coast and West Coast, famous rapper feuds, chart toppers, and show stoppers, The Rap Year Book is an in-depth look at the most influential genre of music to come out of the last generation.

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Complete with infographics, lyric maps, uproarious and informative footnotes, portraits of the artists, and short essays by other prominent music writers, The Rap Year Book is both a narrative and illustrated guide to the most iconic and influential rap songs ever created. It’s like the gold tank from Master P’s “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!” video, except it’s a book. It’s like Kanye’s verse on “Put On,” except it’s a book. It’s like the face Biggie made when he was on the boat with Puffy in “Hypnotize,” except it’s a book.

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"Hip Hop Family Tree Book 3: 1983-1984 (Vol. 3) (Hip Hop Family Tree)" (2015) - Ed Piskor

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Ed Piskor’s acclaimed graphic novel series continues! Book 3 highlights Run DMC’s rise to fame and introduces unassailable acts like Whodini, The Fat Boys, Slick Rick, and Doug E Fresh. The Beastie Boys become a rap group. Rick Rubin meets Russell Simmons to form Def Jam. The famous TV pilot to the dance show Graffiti Rock and the documentaries Style Wars and Breakin’ and Enterin’ are all highlighted in this comprehensive volume spanning 1983-1984. Ed Piskor continues to deliver the goods in this comprehensive history of Hip Hop. Full-color illustrations throughout.

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"Public Enemy: Inside the Terrordome" (2015) - Tim Grierson

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The definitive biography of one of the most influential rap groups in history

Since the group’s early career in 1982, Public Enemy has been the most musically and politically radical rap group in the country. Their sheer presence was revolutionary: from racially charged lyrics to the iconic b-boy in the crosshairs logo, Chuck D, Flava Flav, and the rest were at the forefront of a changing rap scene. Many of their songs have since become anthems for black communities throughout the world.

Public Enemy: Inside the Terrordome tells the whole story of the group’s prolific career. From the early success of the early eighties, to their influential “Fight the Power,” to their introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tim Grierson’s comprehensive biography details the highs and lows of this innovative group. Two 8-page color photo inserts.

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"Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story" (2015) - Julia Beverly

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A pioneer in the South’s quest for respect in the Hip Hop world and one of the most colorful characters to emerge from the music scene which ultimately topped rap charts at the turn of the century, Chad “Pimp C” Butler’s controversial life – and suspicious death in 2007 – left behind many unanswered questions, a family divided, and scores of talented new artists inspired by his group UGK’s music. Sweet Jones pays tribute to the extremely talented – yet bipolar and complex – musician who embodied the Southern dream. Written by the founder and Editor-in-Chief of esteemed Southern rap publication OZONE Magazine and compiled from interviews with Pimp C himself, his mother and manager Weslyn “Mama Wes” Monroe, UGK rap partner Bun B, and hundreds of friends, family members, and collaborators like Snoop Dogg, Scarface, Too $hort, 8Ball & MJG, Jazze Pha, David Banner, Mannie Fresh, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Trae, and Willie D of the Geto Boys, Sweet Jones is a must-read for any Southern rap fan.

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"Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, Revised Edition" (2015) - Zack O'Malley Greenburg

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As much as Martha Stewart or Oprah—and perhaps more than any musician—Jay Z has turned himself into a lifestyle. You can wake up to the local radio station playing his newest hit, spritz yourself with his latest cologne, slip on a pair of his Rocawear jeans, lace up your Reebok S. Carter sneakers, watch baseball star Robinson Cano smack a couple of hits in an afternoon game, and grab dinner at The Spotted Pig. On the way to Jay Z’s 40/40 Club for a D’Ussé cognac nightcap, sign up for streaming service Tidal and hear his latest collaboration with Beyoncé. He’ll profit at every turn of your day.

Empire State of Mind reveals the story behind Jay Z’s rise as told by the people who lived it with him, from classmates at Brooklyn’s George Westinghouse High School and the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade, to the DJ who persuaded him to stop dealing and focus on the music. Now with new interviews with industry insiders like Russell Simmons, Alicia Keys, and J. Cole—more than one hundred in total—this book explains just how Jay Z propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the business world.

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"Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983 (Hip Hop Family Tree)" (2014)

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The second installment of this acclaimed graphic novel Hip Hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boing Boing) covers the years 1981-1983. 2015 Eisner Award Winner: Best Reality-Based Work.

Covering the early years of 1981-1983, Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records. The performers make moves to separate themselves from the paying customers by dressing more and more flamboyant until a young group called RUN-DMC comes on the scene to take things back to the streets. This volume covers hits like Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s the Message, the movie Wild Style and introduces superstars like NWA, The Beastie Boys, Doug E Fresh, KRS One, Ice T, and early Public Enemy. Cameos by Dolemite, LL Cool J, Notorious BIG, and New Kids on the Block (?!)!

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"For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique" (2014) - Dan LeRoy

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Think you know everything possible about the Beastie Boys classic album Paul’s Boutique? Think again. To commemorate the album’s 25th birthday, author Dan LeRoy and journalist Peter Relic joined forces to “drop the new science and kick the new knowledge” about this legendary 1989 release.

The follow-up to LeRoy’s acclaimed 33 1/3 series volume about Paul’s Boutique, this all-new book is crammed with deep research and fresh information. Released on 6623 Press’s creator-owned 66 & 2/3 imprint, it’s a stunning new chapter in Beastie scholarship — and archaeology — that might just startle the band themselves. Learn about the newly-unearthed outtakes from Paul’s Boutique—including the album’s great lost single.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Capitol Records’ fateful decision to sign the Beasties and its controversial aftermath, featuring interviews with all the top label executives. Take a look at rare, forgotten Beastie artifacts. Then dig into the “Boutique Bouillabaisse,” a multi-part tribute to the album’s famous closing medley, jam-packed with inside information. Watch rap’s densest lyric sheet take shape in pictures of notebook pages jotted during the Paul’s Boutique sessions.

Go track-by-track through a rare Mike D mixtape that influenced the album’s prescient retro sound. Meet the hip-hop duo nobody knows, who inspired Adam Yauch. Find out how three DJs reconstructed Paul’s Boutique, sample by sample. Learn more about characters like Beastie “trim coordinator” Dave Scilken.

With many more funky exclusives, this one-of-a-kind book includes 36 photos and three illustrations from artist Jim Mahfood’s 2007 Beastie Boys graphic novel Ask For Janice.

For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul’s Boutique is guaranteed to make you as smart as when “Galileo dropped the orange”! This expanded paperback edition features exclusive material not available in the e-book edition, including Paul’s Boutique-era photographs by Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr.

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"How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques" (2013) - Paul Edwards

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“A clever breakdown of the art form of hip-hop rhymes for anyone who is into the art of incredible raps.”  —Speech, Arrested Development

This sequel to How to Rap breaks down and examines techniques that have not previously been explained—such as triplets, flams, lazy tails, and breaking rhyme patterns. Based on interviews with Hip Hop’s most innovative artists and groups, including Tech N9ne, Crooked I, Pharcyde, Das EFX, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Big Daddy Kane, this book takes you through the intricacies of rhythm, rhyme, and vocal delivery, delving into the art form in unprecedented detail. It is a must-read for MCs looking to take their craft to the next level, as well as anyone fascinated by rapping and its complexity.

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"Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G." (2013) - Cheo Hodari Coker

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In this riveting account of Biggie’s remarkable life, Hip Hop journalist Cheo Hodari Coker tells the story you’ve never heard about the dramatic, tension-filled world of Biggie, Tupac, Puff Daddy, and Suge Knight, tracing their friendships and feuds from the beginning to the bitter end. Despite the clash of personalities and styles, all four were key players in a volatile and creative era of Hip Hop, a time when gangsta rap became popular music.

Before he rocketed to fame as Biggie, Christopher Wallace was a young black man growing up in Brooklyn with a loving single mother. An honors student who dropped out of school to sell drugs, Biggie soon discovered that he had a gift for rocking the mike. Coker’s narrative is based on exclusive interviews with Biggie’s family and friends, some of whom have never spoken publicly about Biggie before.

Compellingly written and brilliantly illustrated, with rare color and black-and-white photographs from VIBE’s archives and Biggie’s family, this is an in-depth look at the life and afterlife of an icon whose music is as powerful and prevalent as ever. A virtuoso of flow as well as a master storyteller, Biggie was arguably the greatest rapper of all time. We’ve heard a lot of speculation about Biggie’s death. Now it’s time to remember his life and celebrate his work.

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"Hip Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970s-1981 (Hip Hop Family Tree)" (2013) - Ed Piskor

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Book 1 of 4 in the Hip Hop Family Tree Series.

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"When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop" (2013) - Laban Carrick Hill

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Before there was Hip Hop, there was DJ Kool Herc.

On a hot day at the end of summer in 1973 Cindy Campbell threw a back-to-school party at a park in the South Bronx. Her brother, Clive Campbell, spun the records. He had a new way of playing the music to make the breaks―the musical interludes between verses―longer for dancing. He called himself DJ Kool Herc and this is When the Beat Was Born. From his childhood in Jamaica to his youth in the Bronx, Laban Carrick Hill’s book tells how Kool Herc came to be a DJ, how kids in gangs stopped fighting in order to breakdance, and how the music he invented went on to define a culture and transform the world.

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"One Day It'll All Make Sense" (2012) - Common & Adam Bradley

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From the Hip Hop icon, Hollywood star, and “a true artist and writer of deep talent” (James McBride, author of The Color of Water)—a candid, New York Times bestselling memoir ranging from his childhood on Chicago’s South side and his emergence as one of rap’s biggest names.

Common has earned a reputation in the Hip Hop world as a conscious artist by embracing themes of love and struggle in his songs. His journey toward understanding is rooted in his relationship with a remarkable woman, his mother.

Common holds nothing back in this gripping memoir, both provocative and funny. He tells what it was like for a boy with big dreams growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He reveals how he almost quit rapping after his first album sold only two thousand copies. He recounts his rise to stardom and talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love, and family. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full. Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son, and friend. His story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.

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"Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ" (2012) - Mark Katz

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It’s all about the scratch in Groove Music, award-winning music historian Mark Katz’s groundbreaking book about the figure that defined Hip-Hop: the DJ.

Today hip-hop is a global phenomenon, and the sight and sound of DJs mixing and scratching is familiar in every corner of the world. But Hip-Hop was born in the streets of New York in the 1970s when a handful of teenagers started experimenting with spinning vinyl records on turntables in new ways. Although rapping has become the face of Hip-Hop, for nearly 40 years the DJ has proven the backbone of the culture. In

In Groove Music, Katz (an amateur DJ himself) delves into the fascinating world of the DJ, tracing the art of the turntable from its humble beginnings in the Bronx in the 1970s to its meteoric rise to global phenomenon today. Based on extensive interviews with practicing DJs, historical research, and his own personal experience, Katz presents a history of Hip Hop from the point of view of the people who invented the genre. Here, DJs step up to discuss a wide range of topics, including the transformation of the turntable from a playback device to an instrument in its own right, the highly charged competitive DJ battles, the game-changing introduction of digital technology, and the complex politics of race and gender in the DJ scene.

Exhaustively researched and written with all the verve and energy of Hip Hop itself, Groove Music will delight experienced and aspiring DJs, Hip Hop fans, and all students or scholars of popular music and culture.

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"Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood" (2012) - Ice T & Douglas Century

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He’s a Hip Hop icon credited with single-handedly creating gangsta rap. Television viewers know him as Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola on the top-rated drama Law & Order: SVU. But where the hype and the headlines end, the real story of Ice-T—the one few of his millions of fans have ever heard—truly begins. Ice is Ice-T in his own words—raw, uncensored, and unafraid to speak his mind. About his orphan upbringing on the gang-infested streets of South Central, his four-year stint in the U.S. Army, his successful career as a hustler and thief, and his fateful decision to turn away from a life of crime and forge his own path to international stardom. Along the way, Ice shares never-before-told stories about friends such as Tupac, Dick Wolf, Chris Rock, and Flavor Flav, among others. And he offers up candid observations on marriage and monogamy, the current state of Hip Hop, and his latest passion: mentoring at-risk youths around the country. With insights into the cutthroat world of the street—and the cutthroat world of Hollywood—Ice is the unforgettable story of a true American original.

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"My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy" (2012) - Albert "Prodigy" Johnson

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In this often violent but always introspective memoir, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy tells his much anticipated story of struggle, survival, and hope down the mean streets of New York City. For the first time, he gives an intimate look at his family background, his battles with drugs, his life of crime, his relentless suffering with sickle-cell anemia, and much more. Recently released after serving three and a half years in state prison due to what many consider an unlawful arrest by a rumored secret NYPD Hip Hop task force, Prodigy is ready to talk about his life as one of rap’s greatest legends.

My Infamous Life is an unblinking account of Prodigy’s wild times with Mobb Deep who, alongside rappers like Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan, changed the musical landscape with their vivid portrayals of early ’90s street life. It is a firsthand chronicle of legendary rap feuds like the East Coast–West Coast rivalry; Prodigy’s beefs with Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, and Capone-N-Noreaga; and run-ins with prodigal hit makers and managers like Puff Daddy, Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty, Irv Gotti, and Lyor Cohen.

Taking the reader behind the smoke-and-mirrors glamour of the Hip Hop world, so often seen as the only way out for those with few options, Prodigy lays down the truth about the intoxicating power of money, the meaning of true friendship and loyalty, and the ultimately redemptive power of self. This is the heartbreaking journey of a child born in privilege, his youth spent among music royalty like Diana Ross and Dizzy Gillespie, educated in private schools, until a family tragedy changed everything. Raised in the mayhem of the Queensbridge projects, Prodigy rose to the dizzying heights of fame and eventually fell into the darkness of a prison cell.

A truly candid memoir, part fearless confessional and part ode to the concrete jungles of New York City, My Infamous Life is written by a man who was on the front line of the last great moment in Hip Hop history and who is still fighting to achieve his very own American Dream.

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"The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy" (2012) -

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The business marketing genius at the forefront of today’s entertainment marketing revolution helps corporate America get hip to today’s new consumer—the tan generation.

When Fortune 500 companies need to reenergize or reinvent a lagging brand, they call Steve Stoute. In addition to marrying cultural icons with blue-chip marketers, Stoute has helped identify and activate a new generation of consumers. He traces how the “tanning” phenomenon raised a generation of black, Hispanic, white, and Asian consumers who have the same “mental complexion” based on shared experiences and values, rather than the increasingly irrelevant demographic boxes that have been used to a fault by corporate America. Stoute believes there is a language gap that must be bridged in order to engage the most powerful market force in the history of commerce.

The Tanning of America provides that very translation guide. Drawing from his company’s case studies, as well as from extensive interviews with leading figures in multiple fields, Stoute presents an insider’s view of how the transcendent power of popular culture is helping reinvigorate and revitalize the American dream.

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"The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop" (2011) - Dan Charnas

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“Pulitzer-level reporting.” -Spin

The Big Payback takes readers from the first $15 made by a “rapping DJ” in 1970s New York to the multi-million-dollar sales of the Phat Farm and Roc-a-Wear clothing companies in 2004 and 2007. On this four-decade-long journey from the studios where the first rap records were made to the boardrooms where the big deals were inked, The Big Payback tallies the list of who lost and who won. Read the secret histories of the early long-shot successes of Sugar Hill Records and Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC’s crossover breakthrough on MTV, the marketing of gangsta rap, and the rise of artist/ entrepreneurs like Jay-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

300 industry giants like Def Jam founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons gave their stories to renowned Hip Hop journalist Dan Charnas, who provides a compelling, never-before-seen, myth-debunking view into the victories, defeats, corporate clashes, and street battles along the 40-year road to Hip Hop’s dominance.

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"Decoded" (2011) - Jay-Z

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Expanded paperback edition of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller features 16 pages of new material, including 3 new songs decoded.

Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.

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"The Anthology of Rap" (2011) - Adam Bradley & Andrew DuBois

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From the school yards of the South Bronx to the tops of the Billboard charts, rap has emerged as one of the most influential cultural forces of our time. In this book, the editors demonstrate that rap is also a wide-reaching and vital poetic tradition born of beats and rhymes.

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"That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader 2nd Edition" (2011) - Murray Forman (Editor), Mark Anthony Neal

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This revised second edition of That’s the Joint! brings together the most important and up-to-date Hip Hop scholarship in one comprehensive volume. Presented thematically, the selections address the history of hip-hop, identity politics of the “Hip Hop nation,” debates of “street authenticity,” social movements and activism, aesthetics, technologies of production, Hip Hop as a cultural industry, and much more. Further, this new edition also includes greater coverage of gender, racial diversity in Hip Hop, Hip Hop’s global influences, and examines Hip Hop’s role in contemporary politics.

With pedagogical features including author biographies, headnotes summarizing key points of articles, and discussion questions, That’s the Joint! is essential reading for anyone seeking deeper understanding of the profound impact of Hip Hop as an intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural movement.

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"The Tao of Wu" (2010) - RZA

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The RZA, founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, imparts the lessons he’s learned on his journey from the Staten Island projects to international superstardom. A devout student of knowledge in every form in which he’s found it, he distills here the wisdom he’s acquired into seven “pillars,” each based on a formative event in his life – from the moment he first heard the call of Hip Hop to the death of his cousin and Clan- mate, Russell Jones, aka ODB. Delivered in RZA’s unmistakable style, at once surprising, profound, and provocative, The Tao of Wu is a spiritual memoir the world has never seen before, and will never see again. A nonfiction Siddhartha for the Hip Hop generation from the author of The Wu-Tang Manual, it will enlighten, entertain, and inspire.

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"Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon" (2010) - Tayannah Lee McQuillar& Fred L. Johnson

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In 1996 Tupac Shakur, one of the most talented artists of his time, was murdered by an unknown gunman. Fred L. Johnson and Tayannah Lee McQuillar examine the theories surrounding his death and the story of Tupac’s lost legacy in this definitive biography.

For millions, Shakur gave voice to their stories, but there was also another side to him, revealed as his life spun out of control, as the whispered warnings from friends went unheeded and the denunciations of critics grew louder. Disturbingly, he sang and wrote about his impending death. When it came, it brought the music industry to its knees and ended an era when American rappers were leaders in using their art to speak the truth to corporate, government, and judicial power.

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"The Rose That Grew From Concrete" (2009) - 2Pac

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Tupac Shakur’s most intimate and honest thoughts were uncovered only after his death with the instant classic The Rose That Grew from Concrete.

His talent was unbounded — a raw force that commanded attention and respect.
His death was tragic — a violent homage to the power of his voice.
His legacy is indomitable — as vibrant and alive today as it has ever been.

For the first time in paperback, this collection of deeply personal poetry is a mirror into the legendary artist’s enigmatic world and its many contradictions.

Written in his own hand from the time he was nineteen, these seventy-two poems embrace his spirit, his energy — and his ultimate message of hope.

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"The Way I Am" (2009) - Eminem

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Chart-topping and headline-making-rap artist Eminem shares his private reflections, drawings, handwritten lyrics, and photographs in his New York Times bestseller The Way I Am

Fiercely intelligent, relentlessly provocative, and prodigiously gifted, Eminem is known as much for his enigmatic persona as for being the fastest-selling rap artist and the first rapper to ever win an Oscar. Everyone wants to know what Eminem is really like – after the curtains go down. In The Way I Am, Eminem writes candidly, about how he sees the world. About family and friends; about Hip Hop and rap battles and his searing rhymes; about the conflicts and challenges that have made him who he is today.

Illustrated with more than 200 full-color and black-and-white photographs-including family snapshots and personal Polaroids, it is a visual self-portrait that spans the rapper’s entire life and career, from his early childhood in Missouri to the basement home studio he records in today, from Detroit’s famous Hip Hop Shop to sold-out arenas around the globe. Readers who have wondered at Em’s intricate, eye- opening rhyme patterns can also see, first-hand, the way his mind works in dozens of reproductions of his original lyric sheets, written in pen, on hotel stationary, on whatever scrap of paper was at hand. These lyric sheets, published for the first time here, show uncut genius at work. Taking readers deep inside his creative process, Eminem reckons with the way that chaos and controversy have fueled his music and helped to give birth to some of his most famous songs (including “Stan,” “Without Me,” and “Lose Yourself”).

Providing a personal tour of Eminem’s creative process, The Way I Am has been hailed as “fascinating,” “compelling,” and “candid.”

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"How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC" (2009) - Paul Edwards

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“Filled with real tools and overflowing with inspiration… a good read even for nonartists interested in learning more about hip-hop creativity, personalities, and history, this offers insights into music and poetry… highly recommended” — Library Journal

Clipse, Cypress Hill, Nelly, Public Enemy, Remy Ma, Schoolly D, A Tribe Called Quest, will.i.am—these are just some of the acclaimed artists offering tips and advice in this compelling how-to. Delivering countless candid and exclusive first-person insights from interviews with more than one hundred of the most innovative artists, author Paul Edwards examines the dynamics of rap from every region and in every form–mainstream and underground, current and classic—and covers everything from content and flow to rhythm and delivery. A first-of-its-kind guide, How to Rap provides a wealth of insight and rapping lore that will benefit beginners and pros alike.

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"The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument" (2009) - KRS One

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The Gospel of Hip Hop: First Instrument, the first book from the I Am Hip Hop, is the philosophical masterwork of KRS ONE. Set in the format of the Christian Bible, this 800-plus-page opus is a life-guide manual for members of Hip Hop Kulture that combines classic philosophy with faith and practical knowledge for a fascinating, in-depth exploration of Hip Hop as a life path. Known as “The Teacha,” KRS ONE developed his unique outlook as a homeless teen in Brooklyn, New York, engaging his philosophy of self-creation to become one of the most respected emcees in Hip Hop history. Respected as Hip Hop’s true steward, KRS ONE painstakingly details the development of the culture and the ways in which we, as “Hiphoppas,” can and should preserve its future.

“The Teacha” also discusses the origination of Hip Hop Kulture and relays specific instances in history wherein one can discover the same spirit and ideas that are at the core of Hip Hop’s current manifestation. He explains Hip Hop down to the actual meaning and linguistic history of the words “hip” and “hop,” and describes the ways in which “Hiphoppas” can change their current circumstances to create a future that incorporates Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth (H-LAW).

Committed to fervently promoting self-reliance, dedicated study, peace, unity, and truth, The “Teacha” has drawn both criticism and worship from within and from outside of Hip Hop Kulture. In this beautifully written, inspiring book, KRS ONE shines the light of truth, from his own empirical research over a 14-year period, into the fascinating world of Hip Hop.

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"Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic" (2009) - Michael Eric Dyson & Sohail Daulatzai

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At the age of nineteen, Nasir “Nas” Jones began recording tracks for his debut album—and changed the music world forever. Released in 1994, Illmatic was hailed as an instant masterpiece and has proven one of the most influential albums in hip-hop history. With its close attention to beats and lyricism, and riveting first-person explorations of the isolation and desolation of urban poverty, Illmaticwas pivotal in the evolution of the genre.

In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together renowned writers and critics including Mark Anthony Neal, Marc Lamont Hill, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., and many others to confront Illmatic song by song, with each scholar assessing an individual track from the album. The result is a brilliant engagement with and commentary upon one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.

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"It's Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post-Hip-Hop Generation" (2009) - M. K. Asante

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It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop takes a bold look at the rise of a generation that sees beyond the smoke and mirrors of corporate-manufactured rap and is building a movement that will change not only the face of pop culture, but the world.

M. K. Asante, Jr., a passionate young poet, professor, filmmaker, and activist who represents this new movement, uses Hip Hop as a springboard for a larger discussion about the urgent social and political issues affecting the Hip Hop and post-Hip Hop generations.

Through insightful anecdotes, scholarship, revolutionary rap lyrics, personal encounters, and conversations with youth across the globe as well as icons such as Chuck D and Maya Angelou, Asante illuminates a shift that can be felt in the crowded spoken-word joints in post-Katrina New Orleans, seen in the rise of youth-led organizations committed to social justice, and heard around the world chanting “It’s bigger than Hip Hop.”

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"Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop" (2009) - Adam Bradley

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“[Bradley] lays out a nuanced, academically rigorous argument that the best hip-hop deserves attention as genuine artistry…. He traces the word rhythm from the Greek rheo, or flow. Biggie had flow; Jay-Z has flow. For an English professor, Adam Bradley got some flow of his own.” — Boston Globe

If asked to list the greatest innovators of modern American poetry, few of us would think to include Jay-Z or Eminem in their number. And yet Hip Hop is the source of some of the most exciting developments in verse today. The media uproar in response to its controversial lyrical content has obscured hip hop’s revolution of poetic craft and experience: Only in rap music can the beat of a song render poetic meter audible, allowing an MC’s wordplay to move a club-full of eager listeners.

Examining rap history’s most memorable lyricists and their inimitable techniques, literary scholar Adam Bradley argues that we must understand rap as poetry or miss the vanguard of poetry today. Book of Rhymes explores America’s least understood poets, unpacking their surprisingly complex craft, and according rap poetry the respect it deserves.

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"Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap" (2007) - Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar

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In the world of Hip Hop, “keeping it real” has always been a primary goal—and realness takes on special meaning as rappers mold their images for street cred and increasingly measure authenticity by ghetto-centric notions of “Who’s badder?”

In this groundbreaking book, Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar celebrates Hip Hop and confronts the cult of authenticity that defines its essential character—that dictates how performers walk, talk, and express themselves artistically and also influences the consumer market. Hip-Hop Revolution is a balanced cultural history that looks past negative stereotypes of Hip Hop as a monolith of hedonistic, unthinking noise to reveal its evolving positive role within American society.

A writer who’s personally encountered many of Hip Hop’s icons, Ogbar traces Hip Hop’s rise as a cultural juggernaut, focusing on how it negotiates its own sense of identity. He especially explores the lyrical world of rap as artists struggle to define what realness means in an art where class, race, and gender are central to expressions of authenticity – and how this realness is articulated in a society dominated by gendered and racialized stereotypes.

Ogbar also explores problematic black images, including minstrelsy, Hip Hop’s social milieu, and the artists’ own historical and political awareness. Ranging across the rap spectrum from the conscious Hip-Hop of Mos Def to the gangsta rap of 50 Cent to the “underground” sounds of Jurassic 5 and the Roots, he tracks the ongoing quest for a unique and credible voice to show how complex, contested, and malleable these codes of authenticity are. Most important, Ogbar persuasively challenges widely held notions that hip-hop is socially dangerous—to black youths in particular—by addressing the ways in which rappers critically view the popularity of crime-focused lyrics, the antisocial messages of their peers, and the volatile politics of the word “nigga.”

Hip-Hop Revolution deftly balances an insider’s love of the culture with a scholar’s detached critique, exploring popular myths about black educational attainment, civic engagement, crime, and sexuality. By cutting to the bone of a lifestyle that many outsiders find threatening, Ogbar makes Hip Hop realer than it’s ever been before.

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"The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop - and Why It Matters" (2008) - Tricia Rose

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Hip Hop is in crisis. For the past dozen years, the most commercially successful Hip Hop has become increasingly saturated with caricatures of black gangstas, thugs, pimps, and ’hos. The controversy surrounding Hip Hop is worth attending to and examining with a critical eye because, as scholar and cultural critic Tricia Rose argues, Hip-Hop has become a primary means by which we talk about race in the United States.

In The Hip-Hop Wars, Rose explores the most crucial issues underlying the polarized claims on each side of the debate: Does hip-hop cause violence, or merely reflect a violent ghetto culture? Is Hip Hop sexist, or are its detractors simply anti-sex? Does the portrayal of black culture in Hip Hop undermine black advancement?

A potent exploration of a divisive and important subject, The Hip-Hop Wars concludes with a call for the regalvanization of the progressive and creative heart of Hip Hop. What Rose calls for is not a sanitized vision of the form, but one that more accurately reflects a much richer space of culture, politics, anger, and yes, sex, than the current ubiquitous images in sound and video currently provide.

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"Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies" (2007) - Brain Coleman

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“Brian Coleman’s writing is a lot like the albums he covers: direct, uproarious, and more than six-fifths genius.”
–Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

“All producers and hip-hop fans must read this book. It really shows how these albums were made and touches the music fiend in everyone.”
–DJ Evil Dee of Black Moon and Da Beatminerz

A Tribe Called Quest • Beastie Boys • De La Soul • Eric B. & Rakim • The Fugees • KRS-One • Pete Rock & CL Smooth • Public Enemy • The Roots • Run-DMC • Wu-Tang Clan • and twenty-five more Hip Hop immortals

It’s a sad fact: Hip Hop album liners have always been reduced to a list of producer and sample credits, a publicity photo or two, and some hastily composed shout-outs. That’s a damn shame, because few outside the game know about the true creative forces behind influential masterpieces like PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions. . ., De La’s 3 Feet High and Rising, and Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). A longtime scribe for the Hip Hop nation, Brian Coleman fills this void, and delivers a thrilling, knockout oral history of the albums that define this dynamic and iconoclastic art form.

The format: One chapter, one artist, one album, blow-by-blow and track-by-track, delivered straight from the original sources. Performers, producers, DJs, and b-boys–including Big Daddy Kane, Muggs and B-Real, Biz Markie, RZA, Ice-T, and Wyclef–step to the mic to talk about the influences, environment, equipment, samples, beats, beefs, and surprises that went into making each classic record. Studio craft and street smarts, sonic inspiration and skate ramps, triumph, tragedy, and take-out food–all played their part in creating these essential albums of the Hip Hop canon.

Insightful, raucous, and addictive, Check the Technique transports you back to Hip Hop’s golden age with the greatest artists of the ’80s and ’90s. This is the book that belongs on the stacks next to your wax.

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"Hip Hop America" (2005) - Nelson George

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From Nelson George, supervising producer and writer of the hit Netflix series, “The Get Down,  Hip Hop America is the definitive account of the society-altering collision between black youth culture and the mass media.

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"The Wu-Tang Manual" (2005) - RZA & Chris Norris

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Long awaited and much anticipated, The Wu-Tang Manual is The RZA’s first written introduction to the philosophy and history of Hip Hop’s original Dynasty, the Wu-Tang Clan.

Since the release of the revolutionary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the course of four seminal group albums and a multitude of ambitious side projects — the Wu-Tang Clan has constantly redefined what Hip Hop can do and where Hip Hop can go. Now, after a decade of dark beats and mysterious lyrics hinting at a larger whole, the RZA, the abbot of the legendary Staten Island Hip Hop collective, fully reveals, for the first time, the complex, multilayered Wu-Tang Universe in The Wu-Tang Manual.

Written in a style that is at once personal and philosophical, The Wu-Tang Manual unravels the intricate web of personalities (and alter egos), warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty. Packed with information that reflects the breadth and depth of the RZA’s — and rest of the Clan’s — intellectual interests and passions, The Wu-Tang Manual is divided into four books of nine chambers each, for a total of 36 chambers. All together, the book provides the breakdown of essential Wu-Tang components, from basic information about each of the nine core members of Wu-Tang Clan to deeper explorations of the key themes of the Wu-Tang universe, a dictionary-like Wu-Slang lexicon, and an entire section of Wu-Tang lyrics with densely annotated explanations of what they mean.

Elegantly laid-out and richly printed, the book is designed to reflect the Asian influence on the Wu-Tang universe, which, as the book explains, began with a fascination with kung-fu movies but quickly led to serious study of martial arts and Eastern philosophy and spirituality. The book also includes a map of Shaolin; a trove of never-before-seen photos of the Wu-Tang Clan, including shots of RZA’s trip to China with Sifu Shi Yan-Ming, live shots, and portraits – by Michael Lavine, Craig Wetherby, Sophia Chang, and Frank151; and original illustrations of many of the guiding lights of the Wu-Tang universe. For the hardcore Wu-Tang disciple and the recent initiate alike, The Wu-Tang Manual is the definitive guide to the essence of Wu, one of the most innovative Hip Hop groups of all time.

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"Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" (2005) - Jeff Chang

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“The birth of hip-hop out of the ruin of the South Bronx is a story that has been told many times, but never with the cinematic scope and the analytic force that Jeff Chang brings to it. . . . This is one of the most urgent and passionate histories of popular music ever written.” ―The New Yorker

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the Hip Hop generation created.

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, Hip Hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, Hip Hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation’s worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style.

Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop’s forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the Hip Hop generation’s rise from the ashes of the 60’s into the new millennium.

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"Rakim Told Me: Wax Facts Straight from the Original Artists--The '80s." (2005) - Brain Coleman

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For years, Hip Hop fans have been robbed of context and background when buying and enjoying classic albums from the Golden Age: the 1980s. Rakim Told Me brings you these invisible liner notes, one album at a time, with new angles and engaging stories.

21 albums are examined in-depth, and facts are uncovered with the turn of every page. Journalist Brian Coleman has, over the past decade, immersed himself in and written about the Hip Hop art form as a columnist for national magazines like XXL, Scratch, CMJ and URB. In this volume, The 80s, he digs deep, one-on one, with legendary artists like Rakim, De La Soul, Ice-T, Public Enemy, KRS-One, Run-DMC, Slick Rick, Too $hort and many more.

Rakim Told Me lets you dive head first into the world of your favorite Hip Hop artists and the classic albums they produced. These are pure wax facts straight from the original artists, brought to the surface again after years of invisibility. So dig out your turntable, clean off your Zulu Nation medallion, crack open a chapter, and relive Hip Hop’s most creative and captivating era.

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"Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop" (2004)

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“Prophets of the Hood is the most comprehensive and intellectually original study to date of hip hop as a complex and innovative literary narrative form. Written with a refreshing blend of savvy critical rigor and brave and imaginative narrative verve, Imani Perry’s study is an impressive analysis of late-twentieth-century American popular culture.”— Daphne A. Brooks, Princeton University

At once the most lucrative, popular, and culturally oppositional musical force in the United States, Hip Hop demands the kind of interpretation Imani Perry provides here: criticism engaged with this vibrant musical form on its own terms. A scholar and a fan, Perry considers the art, politics, and culture of Hip Hop through an analysis of song lyrics, the words of the prophets of the hood. Recognizing prevailing characterizations of hip hop as a transnational musical form, Perry advances a powerful argument that Hip Hop is first and foremost black American music. At the same time, she contends that many studies have shortchanged the aesthetic value of rap by attributing its form and content primarily to socioeconomic factors. Her innovative analysis revels in the artistry of Hip Hop, revealing it as an art of innovation, not deprivation.

Perry offers detailed readings of the lyrics of many hip hop artists, including Ice Cube, Public Enemy, De La Soul, KRS-One, OutKast, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Tupac Shakur, Lil’ Kim, Biggie Smalls, Nas, Method Man, and Lauryn Hill. She focuses on the cultural foundations of the music and on the form and narrative features of the songs—the call and response, the reliance on the break, the use of metaphor, and the recurring figures of the trickster and the outlaw. Perry also provides complex considerations of Hip Hop’s association with crime, violence, and misogyny. She shows that while its message may be disconcerting, rap often expresses brilliant insights about existence in a society mired in difficult racial and gender politics. Hip hop, she suggests, airs a much wider, more troubling range of black experience than was projected during the civil rights era. It provides a unique public space where the sacred and the profane impulses within African American culture unite.

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Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists (1999) - Ego Trip

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Hip hop is huge, and it’s time someone wrote it all down. And got it all right. With over 25 aggregate years of interviews, and virtually every Hip Hop single, remix and album ever recorded at their disposal, the highly respected Ego Trip staff are the ones to do it. The Book of Rap Lists runs the gamut of Hip Hop information. This is an exhaustive, indispensable and completely irreverent bible of true Hip Hop knowledge.

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