Hip-Hop Is History

AUWA. Jun. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780374614072. $30. MUSIC
Academy Award–winning filmmaker/drummer/DJ/music historian and cofounder of the Roots, Questlove (coauthor, The Rhythm of Time)—with the help of Ben Greenman (coauthor, I Am Brian Wilson)—delivers an impressionistic history of hip-hop from 1979 to the present. Linking different hip-hop eras to contemporary events and Questlove’s connection to it, the book begins with hip-hop pioneers, such as the Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. The title chronicles mainstream success with Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, who introduced hard-rock guitars into the mix. The emergence of Afro-centric hip-hop with N.W.A., A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, and the Bomb Squad–produced Public Enemy are noted, along with the blockbusters by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the gangsta rap of Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, and Ye’s work. For the Obama presidency years, the book focuses on Drake and DJ Khaled, highlights Kendrick Lamar during the post-Obama period, and drifts until the book ends. The dominant drugs of each era are also discussed.
VERDICT Well-positioned to detail the genre’s evolution, this book offers hip-hop fans an engaging journey through its history, with much of its focus on the first 30 years.
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