Ode to Hip-Hop: 50 Albums That Define 50 Years of Trailblazing Music

Running Pr. Jul. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9780762482979. $28. MUSIC
Music journalist Fitzgerald curates an eclectic list of albums for this respectable tribute to hip-hop. Divided by decade, each segment includes a mini-biography of the artist, a music review of the album, Billboard and Grammy stats, and publications that praised it. Some sections also include sidebars and interludes with topics ranging from an artist’s fashion style to political and conscious hip-hop growth. Fitzgerald selected the albums based on their influence on other musicians, Black culture, and the genre. Along with seminal works from Kurtis Blow, Dr. Dre, and Nicki Minaj, the book highlights releases from artists such as Clipse and Rapsody, who have earned critical acclaim and moderate record sales and streams. Refreshingly, there are more women and non-coastal representations than in most music publications. The book’s structure creates a countdown that allows the albums to speak for themselves. However, although the segments for all albums are about three pages each, the writing’s repetitious format can become tedious. As a bonus, the book’s illustrator, also known as Yay Abe, provides vibrant artwork that flows throughout and jumps off the page.
VERDICT A useful reference for hip-hop fans and music streaming enthusiasts.
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