The Anthology of Rap

Great idea from editors Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois celebrating hip-hop’s lyrical past and present.  “The Anthology of Rap, like many literature anthologies, sensibly divides its material into eras. Beginning with the “Old School” years of 1978-1984 (covering Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, among others), the selections travel through the “Golden Age” of 1985-1992 (with special attention to Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, and NWA). From there, it explores rap’s rise to mainstream prominence between 1993-1999 (thanks, in part, to The Fugees, Jay-Z, Tupac, The Notorious BIG, Nas, and The Wu-Tang Clan), as well as “New Millennium Rap” (featuring, like a posse track, Eminem, T.I., Mos Def, Kanye West, Jean Grae, and Lil Wayne). A chronological and thematic hodgepodge comprises the final section of “Lyrics for Further Study”.  Despite a geographic focus on rap in the United States, the anthology provides a level playing field for each of rap’s regional centers.  A hint of rap’s international flavor comes from Somali-born, Canada-based K’Naan, Kardinal Offishall (another Canadian), and the London-born, Sri Lankan M.I.A.  Sorry, there are no lyrics by British rapper Dizzee Rascal. In the future, a volume highlighting rap at the international level would certainly be welcome.”

Man what an awesome book.  The one thing that always miffs me about discussing hip-hop is how dismissive people are when it comes to either the lyrics or how the songs are constructed through sampling.  You’ve lost my attention and respect if you drop the “well, they don’t write their own music” argument.

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