Now if you're anything like me, Summer Reading was the biggest bitch in school. I'm all for relaxing with a book in the summer, but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is not what I wanna be reading at the beach.
Over the years, I've read (and reread) quite a few hip-hop books. Here's a breakdown of my favorites.
4. Decoded- Jay Z: Obviously Decoded had to be on the list. Hov dissects many of his greatest tracks, verse by verse, and explains every word in each bar. Hearing the back stories of your favorite songs makes them even more enjoyable to listen to. I can't see how you could read this memoir and have anything but the deepest respect for Hova.
3. The Rose that Grew From Concrete- Tupac Amaru Shakur: If you need a little break from prose, be sure to check out Pac's poetry book. I usually just flip through it every now and then. Reading it reiterates the fact that rap is just poetry with beats. Like Pac's songs, the meaning of these poems don't always jump out at you, but are worth taking the time to figure out.
2. Hip-Hop Wars- Tricia Rose: Written by a Brown University professor, this novel explains how it is not rap, but mainstream rap that gives the genre a negative image. She talks about how the lack of commercial exposure to rappers like Talib Kweli and Questlove have crippled the ability of the public to see rap as anything other than what she calls "gangsta-pimp-ho trinity". She argues that rap is the primary expression of many of the sociological issues in our society.
1. The Tao of Wu- RZA: I'm on my third time reading this book, and I feel like I have gotten something new out of it each time. The book outlines the triumphs and mistakes of RZA's life, stylized as his Seven Pillars of Wisdom. While learning about the grassroots of the Wu Tang Clan, you're also enlightened by some Wu Wisdom.