A look at the hip hop books of 2022
Since the 1990s, the emergence of hip hop non-fiction and historical books has grown steadily. In 1994, Tricia Rose became one of the first hip-hop documentarians on the book market with her seminal book, “Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America.” Since then, the exploration of hip hop music, culture and biographies and odes to iconic artists like Tupac Shakur has grown to become a viable topic in the mainstream book market.
There is, of course, always work to be done in exposing American and global culture to the influential contributions of black hip hop artists, but 2022 reveals an effort by the publishing world to push this incredible narrative and culture forward.
A few notable hip hop books, all biographies and memoirs, were released in the first half of 2022, and they all continue to lay the groundwork for an explosion of literary interest in hip hop.
Journalist Justin Tinsley’s “It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made It” was released in conjunction with the year rapper Biggie Smalls would have celebrated his 50th birthday. The book includes several interviews with the people who knew Biggie best: his neighbors, friends, DJs and fellow musicians. The book takes an in-depth look at the rapper’s life beyond what has only been reported in the news and media. Dive into the depths to learn more about this deeply talented musician who left the world far too soon.
“DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution” follows Lance Scott Walker’s “Houston Rap Tapes,” a photobook about Houston hip hop culture. Walker does scrupulous research in the form of a wide range of interviews with almost everyone who knew seminal Houston DJ, DJ Screw. Known for his unforgettable “chopped and screwed” style where he collaborated with local rappers who rhymed to his beats and then slowed down the songs he created dramatically. His music created a craze in Houston in the 1990s and put him on the map as one of the most unique DJs in hip hop history.
Award-winning journalist and hip hop music business expert Dan Charnas teaches a course at New York University called “Topics In Recorded Music: J-Dilla” a definitive look at the life and music of the hip production genius hop born in Detroit, J Dilla. “Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm” journeys from Dilla’s childhood to her untimely death from a rare blood disease. He is known to be one of the most revered hip hop producers of all time, unequivocally defining the sound of soul hip hop in the 1990s and 2000s.
Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon, also known as Rollie Pemberton, has released a revealing memoir about his personal experience in the music industry as a well-known hip hop critic and rapper in Canada. “Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip-Hop, Resistance, and Surviving the Music Industry” provides an intimate portrait of the life and times of the rapper and freelance writer. “I want there to be something every reader can take away from the book. I want it to be something that could be useful, whether it’s a guide to hip hop or underground rap or Canadian music. But ultimately the reason I wrote the book was that I realized it was a story that had never really been told,” he told Flaunt in July 2022.