The best American hip hop journalism of the last 25 years
Edited by Raquel Cepeda
Faber & Faber
This book is one which stands out amongst the masses of hip hop history books for one simple reason: It takes articles written at the times when specific events happened. Where one book would look back on an event and be able to write with hindsight which would shape the opinion and narrative, this book simply uses the exact articles written at the time, giving you a perfect idea of how hip hop was viewed within certain periods.
The opening part of the book looks at the early days of the movement, and its interesting to see how people saw the future of hip hop, whether it was just a phase or whether it had some long lasting appeal. It seems, looking back on what the journalists thought at the time, that no-one could ever have imagined just how much impact hip hop would have on the music world and beyond. The stories make for great reading to see how the early pioneers went about their business, especially the stories of the Rock Steady Crew going to Paris with various rappers, DJs and graf writers and how they were viewed by the European crowds.
The middle part of the book looks at the rise of rap in the 90s and features articles written with Tupac and Biggie before their untimely deaths and provide a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the two rappers, how they viewed the world, where they came from and what impact they had at the time they were alive.
And finally the book ends up in the current decade, with an obituary on Jam Master Jay being the particular article that stands out as we can look back now, over 20 years on from the start of hip hop and see what he helped achieve for the music which has grown from a small start in the Bronx to an all encompassing lifestyle and which Jam Master Jay was a catalyst for.
Being able to read the thoughts of the journalists at the time enables the reader to get a mindset of the time, giving them the opportunity to imagine just how big a change the emergence of hip hop was and allowing the mind to wander into the psyche of the major players of each era that hip hop has passed through. A brilliant read with some excellent choices of articles.