Friday, February 4, 2011

Rappers' Delights- Books for Rap Fans

The teens that come into the library are always surprised to find out that this middle-aged white woman is a fan of rap. They forget that rap is not a new music form and has been around for over 30 years! I was a teenager during the birth of punk and rap. The song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang dates back to 1979. My favorite rap song was (and still is) “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Not all rap is about sex, violence and/or drugs. They can (excuse the pun) have a message.

Some rappers have ventured into the publishing field. I think Eminem is brilliant, so much so I am the one to introduce my son to his music. Among his many accomplishments, which included LP Slim Shady going triple platinum, he is the first rapper to win an Oscar. His first biography Angry Blonde was released in 2000. In 2008 he brought his fans up to date with The Way I Am.

M. F. Grimm’s biography Sentences was published in an interesting format, a graphic novel, for which he was awarded two Eisner Awards. Grimm comes from an unusual background for a rapper. Morgan Freeman was his neighbour in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and helped him get a role on Sesame Street. In 1993 Grimm rapped at the World Supremacy Battle and released his first single. In 1994 he survived a murder attempt, but was blinded, deafened and paralyzed from the waist down. He has since recovered his sight and hearing but is still confined to a wheelchair. He continues to rap, recently releasing “Supreme Excellence”.

50 Cent has sold more than 20 million records worldwide and he is the first artist to have four songs in the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 since the Beatles in 1964. He has co-written, with Robert Greene, a philosophy book, The 50th Law, which debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list. The central theme is on how to become fearless. His autobiography, From Pieces to Weight, deals with his growing up in Southside Queens, NYC. He has also co-authored a number of urban fiction novels such as the Diamond District, Baby Brother and Blow.

Another rapper-writer is Snoop Dogg with the novel Love Don’t Live Here No More:a novel. You can’t say Snoop isn’t versatile having played part in everything from children movies to pornography.

Russell Simmons has made a name for himself as a business man. He has two books; Life and Def and Do You : 12 laws to access the power in you to achieve happiness and success. It is not everyday that a rapper is interviewed for “Business Week” magazine.

Another ultra-rich rapper/writer is Sean Coombs. He joins Simmons with Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Wyclef Jean on the DVD “Hip-hop Laws of Success” in which they discuss the business of hip-hop.

How could anyone talk about rap and its history without mentioning Tupac! I think of him as this generations’ Elvis. Tupac is worshiped years after his death and the myths about him, his life and death continue to this day. He figures in the plot of the novel, After Tupac and D. Foster by Jacqueline Woodson.

The latest non-fiction biography is , Tupac Shakur : the life and Times of an American Icon by Tayannah Lee McQuillar and Freddie Lee Johnson. But the best is to go to the source. HRL has 2 wonderful books by Tupac : The Rose that Grew from Concrete and Inside a Thug’s Heart.

So there you have it. Hopefully something in this blog will cause you a rapper’s delight. Enjoy!

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