Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giftin' #1: Rappers spit lyrics, then pen a book

As Christmas approaches, hip hop fans can add a book by their favorite rapper to the Santa gift list. This is the #1 gift list post for all (old skool) hip hop fans.

Jay-Z...Prodigy...Common...Ice-T...50 Cent...The RZA...

An article I read in n+1 magazine explains why your favorite rappers were motivated to write a coffee table book. In summary, supply and demand: Rap legends are hitting their forties and are nostalgic for their prime years. Writing a book about their lives fulfills this need and creates the supply; and fans are lining up to buy these books as they themselves reminisce about their twenties too!

"The recent spate of autobiographical activity...just testifies to the fact that a certain generation is getting on. Consider some of the recent rapper-authors: Prodigy was born in 1974, Common in 1972, Jay-Z and the RZA of the Wu-tang Clan in 1969. All were adolescents in the eighties, during the great social transformations wrought by crack, and all went on to contribute to one of hip hop’s most competitive and beloved micro-periods, the mid to late nineties. It’s likely that the books stem partly from an underlying nostalgia for this time, when rap—gangster or conscious, mainstream or independent—seemed less splintered than it is now, more part of a single vibrant conversation. (And also that a group of 30 and 40 year olds, much like their readers, are nostalgic for their twenties.)" James Guida, n+1 

Précis that  If you don't have time to read these autobiographies, Guida gives you the dope in 3,400 words. His article breaks down what each book has to offer. You have the gangster-turned-rapper - we've all heard and loved that story. There's the one about the rapper-turned-actor/celebrity/visitor-to-the-White-House - that one may appeal to you.

In the end, Guida summizes that there isn't one face of hip hop - it's represented in so many difficult ways depending on the artist. And the purpose of writing these autobiographies isn't about gaining kudos and notching up another milestone, but about explaining how success only comes with hard work and overcoming struggles "with fickle industry, family (all had absentee fathers), the barriers of racism and poverty."

Never heard of n+1? It isn't another hip hop culture blog, it's a nearly decade old print publication covering politics, literature, and culture. That's how influential hip hop has become!

Other articles on rap books
Open City Magazine, October 2012
All Hip August 2009
Old School Hip 2006? 

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Blogger ::the:mix:mason:: said...

i loved decoded and liked common's book....this year imma check out that RZA one

7:42 PM  

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