PERFORMING ARTS

Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle

Univ. of Washington. Nov. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780295747576. $95; pap. ISBN 9780295747569. $29.95. MUSIC
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Historian and author Abe’s (humanities, Seattle Central Coll.; 6 ’N in the Morning: West Coast Hip-Hop Music 1987–1992) chronicle is an excellent primer for those whose knowledge of Seattle hip-hop begins with Sir Mix-a-Lot and ends with Macklemore. Those two worthies get their due, but in emphasizing the diversity of styles, strong community orientation, and struggle for legitimacy in the eyes of the city’s civic and cultural institutions, Abe creates a comprehensive history of Seattle hip-hop’s largely isolated genesis and development. If the narrative is at times disjointed—in particular, readers who aren’t already familiar with the artists may find it hard to follow the lines of creative influence—there’s plenty here to send the curious listener down YouTube rabbit holes, including a playlist curated by Abe. The inclusion of extensive quotations from local rappers, DJs, producers, writers, graphic artists, and other contributors to 40 years of Seattle hip-hop is welcome.
VERDICT This enjoyable and encyclopedic treatment of a thriving and still-growing culture will appeal to listeners and scholars of Seattle hip-hop and the genre in general.

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