Thursday, August 8, 2013

Straight Outta Compton Turns 25: Books About Rap and Hip-Hop

On this day in 1988, NWA released Straight Outta Compton. This album was a breakthrough album in rap and hip-hop and brought the genres to mainstream audiences.


The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur. This is a collection of rapper Tupac's poetry from the late 80s and early 90s-- before he was famous. In addition to his powerful words, this book pairs the poems with reproductions of the originals so you can read it in his own writing and see his editing process.

In Darkness by Nick Lake. I'm including this one because of Shorty's friend and gang leader, Biggie, who named himself after Biggie Smalls and tried to rap like him. One of things that Shorty does to try to keep himself sane in the darkness of the hospital that's collapsed around him is recite lyrics.

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode. Esme (AKA MC Ferocious) lives in a conservative, white, religious suburb, but that doesn't stop her from laying down some righteous beats with her all-girl crew. But when she starts to fall for her co-MC, Rowie, it threatens everything.


Glitz by Philana Marie Boles. Raquel knows she's going to be a star, and she'll do anything to see her dreams come true. Ann Michelle is tired of her perfect, sheltered good-girl life. When Raquel wants to follow Piper, her hip hop idol, Ann Michelle is along for the ride.

Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison. Tory wants to be a star, so he's making music at a weekly block party in preparation for the Unsigned Hype contest, because if he wins all of his dreams will come true.

Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah. Ray and his friends have been given a chance to achieve superstar rapper stardom. But the gangsta rap lifestyle isn't for them as a conflict with another group turns violent and potentially deadly.

What books on rap and hip hop would you recommend?

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