The Anthology of Rap by Andrew Bradley & Andrew Dubois

Jay Z – 99 Problems

The Anthology of Rap was the suggestion for the September book – which proved to be a controversial choice. Controversial as some didn’t think rap was an appropriate choice for book club. However, when we explored the contents the subject matter also proved controversial due to some of the inclusions and exclusions.

The book went through the four ages of rap from the days of Afrika Bambaatta and Kurtis Blow through to modern day – Lil Wayne and Kanye West. Obviously, it included my favourite rappers Tupac, Nas and the man I love to call my husband Jay Z. The four ages identified were as follows:

  • 1978 – 1984: The Old School
  • 1985 – 1992: The Golden Age
  • 1993 – 1999: Rap Goes Mainstream
  • 2000 – 2010: New Millenium

The book explored rap from a lyrical point of view, and we sort to treat rap as poetry. Thus on the whole it was difficult for me to read without the melody also infiltrating my mind. Consequently, I decided to find the songs on either Spotify or YouTube (if possible) so I could read along. I figured this is how they wanted their words to be heard. 

With regard to earlier works, this proved hard as a few of the songs referenced were live appearances  e.g., Brother D with the Collective Effort and even for latter songs like Queen B.I.T.C.H by Lil’ Kim.

It was also interesting to see where other rappers had taken their hooks as well as their samples from, as recycling is definitely a feature of this genre of music, e.g Kurtis Blow’s If I Ruled The World:

Kurtis Blow – If I Ruled The World

Nas feat. Lauryn Hill – If I Ruled The World

I grew up on rap, but I would never say that I was an expert. But through reading this book it made me appreciate the music – and helped me discover people. It also reminded me that there bulk of the modern crop played on the mainstream radios are really the tip of the iceberg. 

It would be interesting to see if they updated the book, as well as if they were able to get the copyright licences approved, who would be included. Would 2 Chainz or Trinidad James feature? Would the lyrics of A$AP Rock or Nicki Minaj get an honourable mention.

The book is a definite must have for the book shelf.

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