2021 would have been the year Tupac Shakur turned 50, but his life was cut short when he was just 25 by still-unknown (or, at least, not officially known) assailants in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. Here, Sheldon Pearce writes glowingly of the superstar, interviews a variety of people who knew Shakur at various phases of his life, paying particular focus to lesser-known subjects who are able to shine new light on the legendary artist. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.
Over the last 50 years, rap & hip-hop have played a key role in shaping not only the musical landscape, but culture at large. The following is a list of books that look at the artistic importance of the genre, highlighting both the high-profile hitmakers and lesser-known artists.
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Charnas, who wrote “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop,” presents a biography of James Dewitt Yancey, better known as J Dilla, a rap producer many casual fans may not be familiar with. While J Dilla’s life was sadly cut short by a rare blood disease, Charnas maps how his unique musical perspective has helped to form the current sound. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.
Many books on this subject have either ignored or paid short shrift to the women who have shaped the genre. Iandolli gives these trailblazers their due praise, highlighting hitmakers like Nicki Minaj and Queen Latifah, as well as early pioneers like Roxanne Shante. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla or as eAudio on Hoopla.
Shea Serrano and illustrator Arturo Torres complete their “And Other Things” trilogy (previously covering basketball and movies), this time covering hip-hop. Each chapter covers a different overarching question that Serrano attempts to answer with his reverential essays, paired perfectly with Torres’s humor-tinged illustrations.
New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh is one of the most vital voices writing today on the state of music. In “Major Labels,” he takes a deep dive look at seven genres (including hip-hop), charting their histories with a focus on the interplay that happens between when music is deemed “good” or “bad,” as well as the idea that certain music is created for white people and certain music is created for Black people. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.
Rakim is known as one of the greatest rappers of all time, particularly for his complicated lyrical patterns and unique style. “Sweat the Technique” is a combination of memoir and writing guide, offering readers a glimpse into the life of a true creative force. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.
Talib Kweli mixes his own story, growing up in Brooklyn before becoming one of rap’s most sought-after collaborators, with a powerful case for rap as a political force that helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.