The Come Up: An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop

Books on Tape. Oct. 2022. 18:11 hrs. ISBN 9780593634943. $95. MUSIC
Award-winning journalist Abrams (All the Pieces Matter) chronicles the rise of hip-hop in this oral history, tracking it from an underground youth culture to a global phenomenon. Hip-hop was born in the Bronx in the summer of 1973, and Abrams interviews key figures who were there from the beginning, unfolding the story of the early years—parties with DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, the 1977 New York City blackout, and the intersection of disco and hip-hop. As hip-hop rises, superstars are born, record labels are founded, and the sound and style spread, first to the West Coast, then globally. Abrams brings in the stories of lesser-known but influential figures and the superstars who defined hip-hop in the public consciousness, presenting a well-rounded look at a genre that has redefined popular music. Dion Graham anchors the audio, smoothly narrating descriptive paragraphs as well as the names of the interviewees, and his love for hip-hop shines. While it would have been ideal to hear the distinctive voices of some of hip-hop’s iconic figures, the exceptional cast of narrators does justice to the text, infusing the audiobook with verve and personality.
VERDICT This well-produced, essential account of hip-hop music and culture will appeal to the genre’s many fans, as well as listeners who enjoy popular culture and oral history.
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