Tag Archives: Music

National Hip Hop History Month

For many people, hip hop is more than just music: it’s a lifestyle. November is National Hip Hop History month and we wanted to take a moment to appreciate some great books that document the history of the musical genre and the artists that made it great.

The concise guide to hip-hop music: a fresh look at the art of hip-hop, from old-school beats to freestyle rap by Paul Edwards— Although concise, this book is by no means basic. Edwards explores the full history of rap, including old school, new school, and the most influential artists in the business. Myths and misconceptions are dispelled surrounding artists and their music. Whether you’re new to the genre or an old school b-boy, this book has something new for everyone.

The gospel of hip hop : first instrument  presented by KRS-One for the Temple of Hip Hop—In this bible-style manifesto, philosophy and practical knowledge are combined to provide instruction for hip hop as a lifestyle. The past of the genre is explored as well as ways to preserve it in the future through “Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth.” Having drawn praise and criticism from a multitude of readers, this inspiring book will undoubtedly immerse you in the Hip Hop culture.

The hip hop wars: what we talk about when we talk about hip hop–and why it matters by Tricia Rose—Hip hop is changing. Rose is concerned that hip hop is becoming increasingly saturated with caricatures of black culture, such as “gangsters, thugs, pimps, and ‘hos.” Hip hop has become a venue in which society can talk about race; but, the overabundance of stereotypes greatly inhibits that conversation. Rose examines whether these stereotypes are a reflection of hip hop culture or if it undermines it.

Hip hop matters: politics, pop culture, and the struggle for the soul of a movement by S. Craig Watkins—Hip hop is more than its own culture; it has been integrated into politics, American pop culture, and education. Unsurprisingly, this culture has its greatest influence on young people. Watkins argues that the corporate takeover of the industry greatly influences young people’s perceptions of the world around them. Ultimately, Watkins argues for the positive influences of hip hop culture on the younger generation.

Hip hop: bring the noise: the stories behind the biggest songs by Neil Kulkarni—As in every great genre, hip hop is more than just the songs, but the stories behind them.  Rap is highly political by nature, and its complex lyrics are rich with backstories. Kulkarni’s book is filled with pictures and stories about popular songs from NWA to Eminem. These accounts help reveal the artistry of hip hop music.

Dirty South : Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern rappers who reinvented hip-hop by Ben Westhoff–  East Coast and West Coast rap have dominated the hip hop scene since the beginning. In recent years, a new style of rap has emerged: Southern rap. Although it is looked down upon by the coastal artists, rappers like Outcast and Lil Wayne continue to be successful among listeners.  Westhoff takes readers deep into the South to explore these popular artists and the neighborhoods that inspire their music. While interviewing rappers, producers, and dance-craze originators, readers are exposed to the rich and complicated culture of Southern hip hop.

Book of rhymes: the poetics of hip hop by Adam Bradley—Poetry’s greatest influence might not be coming from who you might think.  Many of today’s poetic innovators are rappers, such as Jay-Z and Eminem. Although lyrics are sometimes controversial, they follow the many of the rhythms of traditional poetry.  Bradley argues that if we do not view rap as poetry, we are missing out on revolutionary works by contemporary masters of the craft.

How to rap: the art and science of the hip-hop MC by Paul Edwards—Do you aspire to be the next great rapper? Do you love the music but don’t know where to start in writing your own lyrics? Edwards provides a comprehensive guide to help new rappers in the craft as well as provide helpful tips for experienced lyricists. Filled with research and interviews from 100 of the greatest rappers today, aspects of the craft are explored in their complexity. Breathing control, literary tools, constructing beats, and free-styling are just some of the many insights covered in this extensive manual.


Famous Friends

Have you ever wonder what it would be like to be friends with someone famous? Do you ever wish you knew more about a celebrity beyond their public persona?  We’ve compiled a list of fascinating biographies that bring insight into the lives of people we’ve come to admire locally, nationally, and globally. Grab your best friend and delve into the lives of these famous friends.

Sparky and me : my friendship with Sparky Anderson and the lessons he shared about baseball and life by Dan Ewald—Sparky Anderson was the legendary manager of the Detroit Tigers from 1979 to 1995. In 1979, Sparky met Dan Ewald and a life-long friendship was established. From the front row at the ball park, Ewald was able to watch one of baseball’s most memorable managers bring his passion and knowledge of the game. While Ewald learned about the intricacies of the sport, Sparky taught him the “unwritten rules” of life, which he took to heart.

Elvis: my best man : a memoir : radio days, rock ‘n’ roll nights, and my lifelong friendship with Elvis Presley by George Klein with Chuck Crisafulli—In eighth grade, George Klein  became friends with the new kid in school with a guitar. When George heard him sing, he knew his new friend was someone extraordinary. Travel back to the early days of rock ‘n’roll with the King and one of his best friends Follow the whirlwind that shot Elvis to the height of fame. This heart-felt and entertaining homage to his friend takes you behind the lights and gives a glimpse of Elvis Presley beyond his stage persona.

As always, Julia : the letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto : food, friendship, and the making of a masterpiece  selected and edited by Joan Reardon—Julia Child was one of the original culinary personality. In this collection of over 200 letters between Julia and her “pen pal” and literary mentor, Avis DeVoto, we get a unique glimpse into the deepest thoughts and feelings of America’s favorite chef. Not only do we experience the growth of a life-long friendship, but the burgeoning of her most influential cookbook.

White heat: the friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple—Emily Dickinson was a reclusive poet whose work was not discovered until after her death. Thomas Wentworth Higginson was the abolitionist who commanded the first unit of African American soldiers in the Civil War. Dickinson sent Higginson four poems, which launched a friendship and an intense correspondence between the two, covering art, politics, and everything in-between. After her death, Higginson worked to publish Emily’s collection of poems, which made her one of the most influential poets of the 20th century.

Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly : the remarkable story of the friendship between a first lady and a former slave by Jennifer Fleischner—Elizabeth Keckly was Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker and confident during her time in the White House and early years of widowhood. Keckley bought her freedom in 1855 and settled in Washington DC. She quickly created a name for herself as a dressmaker in high society, attracting the attention of the first lady, who often felt overwhelmed by the social elite.  As Abraham Lincoln tried to hold the country together, Mary turned to her seamstress for companionship and advice, building a lasting friendship during a turbulent time.

I loved Lucy : my friendship with Lucille Ball by Lee Tannen—Although they met when they were children, Lucy and Lee’s friendship didn’t blossom until twenty-five years later during the last decade of Lucy’s life. Lee has written a tribute of the “lost Lucy years,” as Ball receded from the stage into her personal life. This book gives an honest and insightful portrayal of the final years of Lucy’s life, from quiet moments at home to traveling the world.

Mandela : my prisoner, my friend  by  Christo Brand, with Barbara Jones— When he enlisted in the army at 18 years old, Brand was confused and saddened by the realities of South African apartheid.  He opted to work as a prison guard instead of facing the dangerous life of a policeman or solider. By chance, he was given charge of South Africa’s most famous prisoner: Nelson Mandela. For over a decade, Brand watched Mandela face his injustices with dignity and hope. Eventually, the unlikely pair became close friends and, at times, accomplices. The two created a bond that would endure until Mandela’s death.

The extraordinary Mrs. R: a friend remembers Eleanor Roosevelt  William Turner Levy and Cynthia Eagle Russett—William Turner Levy was close friends with one of the most influential and admired women of the 20th century. Levy gives an intimate view of the former first lady and how she viewed the world. Russett brings a historical perspective to Roosevelt’s political and social accomplishments. Filled with intimate and fascinating anecdotes, the book gives a glimpse into the extraordinary life of the woman behind the public persona.

Read to the Rhythm: Summer Reading Fun


On June 1, 2015, we kicked off the summer with our summer reading program for children and grown-ups. We’re excited to enjoy the sunshine and a good book or two. Here are a few books that we’re looking forward to reading this summer.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins— Billed as “the next Gone Girl,The Girl on the Train is the perfect summer psychological thriller. Rachel takes the commuter train every day, riding past the home she and her ex-husband used to share. Now he lives there with his new wife and baby.  A few doors down from, Rachel watches another happy couple and fantasizes about their life together. One day, Rachel sees the woman kissing a man that is not her husband. The next day, the woman goes missing. Rachel offers what she knows to the police and becomes intertwined in the investigation.

Ruby by Cynthia Bond— Ruby Bell is “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” but has experienced profound suffering in her small Texas town. She runs off to 1950s New York City and beings a new life. When she is forced to come back to Texas, Ruby must face her traumatic past. Ruby is a story of passion, courage, and loyalty.  Ruby is also the newest Oprah Book Club selection.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah— Fans of All the Light We Cannot See will also love this great book set in France during World War II.  Vianne and Isabelle are sisters that are only united for the love they have for each other. Vianne lives in the country while Isabelle lives in Paris.  Vianne must say good-bye to her husband as he goes off to fight in the War, leaving her and her daughter vulnerable when German soldiers decide to quarter in her home. Meanwhile, Isabelle is young and in love in Paris. When her relationship turns sour, she joins the resistance. The Nightingale tells the heartbreaking story of two sisters that are united in love for each other and in their strength in fighting for what’s right.

Dead Wake: the last crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson—On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania set sail out of New York City toward Liverpool, England. It was 10 months into WWI, and everyone on the ship was at ease, even though Germany already declared the Atlantic a war zone. The Lusitania was a “greyhound of the sea,” carrying 1,962 passengers, including a record amount of children and infants. On May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Larson crafts a compelling narrative surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania from multiple perspectives.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James—On December 3, 1976, seven gunman stormed Bob Marley’s house in an assassination attempt. Marley and several others were left wounded but alive. Not much is known about the gunman and their fate. James examines this dangerous time in Jamaican history, crafting memorable and compelling characters. Jamaica’s turbulent past is recounted through many unique voices.

Us: a novel by David Nicholls—Connie and Doug couldn’t be more different. Regardless, they fell in love and built a life together. After more than 20 years of marriage, Connie tells Doug she thinks she wants a divorce. Before her decision is final, she agrees to go on one last vacation with Doug and their son, Albie: a tour of Europe. Doug is convinced that the trip will help fix their family problems; but, is it too late?

Song of the Shank : a novel  by Jeffery Renard Allen – Tom Wiggins, or “Blind Tom,” was born a slave and became known as a musical prodigy. This work blends history and a little fantasy to tell the struggles and transformation of a former slave to the first African American to perform at the White House.  After almost a decade of research, Allen crafted a complex, enthralling story that will give readers a profound understanding of the inhumanity of slavery and 19th-century racial attitudes.

To join in on the summer reading fun, stop by the Fiction desk on the 2nd floor. Sign up and start reading to win books and be entered into drawings for some great prizes, including an Amazon Kindle Fire and Beats by Dre headphones. What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Music To Soothe Your Soul!

Music that soothes the soul

 “When my mind is free
You know a melody can move me.
When I’m feelin’ blue
The guitar is comin’ through to soothe me…
Thanks for the joy that you’re giving me.
I want you to know I believe in your song.
Rhythm and rhyme and harmony;
You’ve helped me along,
Making me strong….OH!…
Gimme the beat boys to free my soul,
I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n roll and drift away…”

 Do those lyrics resonate with you? They sure do with me! Maybe there have been plenty of times where you have been angry or upset or tense, and have reached for that perfect song or CD that alleviates those feelings and brings you to a place of calm. There are so many songs that do that for me, so I can understand if it’s classical music, soft rock, or even rap that does it for you. Sometimes when I’ve had a rough day, I like hard rock! Shocking, I know!

I’ve cultivated a list of artists, organized alphabetically by genre and then by CD title, that we have here in the library that may do all that and more. Just be prepared for goose bumps, sudden urges to sing along, or unexpected tranquility and peace. This is definitely not a complete list, so please feel free to share your own “go-to” song, artist, or CD; I’d definitely like to hear about it!

And if you don’t see something in our catalog that you’d like to hear, if you’re a resident of Southfield or Lathrup Village, we may be able to request it for you from a participating library in our network!



            Favorite Beethoven sonatas

            The 9 symphonies


            The piano concertos

George Gershwin

            The essential George Gershwin


            Mozart: symphonies nos. 35, 36, 38, 39-41

Yo-Yo Ma

            Songs of joy & peace

            Yo-Yo Ma plays the music of John Williams


Vince Gill

            When I call your name


Ella Fitzgerald

            Ella Fitzgerald [sings] the George and Ira Gershwin songbook

Kenny G

            Heart and soul

            Greatest hits

Louis Armstrong

            20 best of Louis Armstrong

Ray Charles

            The best of Ray Charles the Atlantic years

Tony Bennett

            Duets an American classic

 New Age



Jim Brickman

            Beautiful world


            Devotion the best of Yanni


Moody Blues

            The best of the Moody Blues


            M C M X C a. D.


Amy Grant

            Age to age


John Williams

            John William’s Greatest hits


            Soft and soothing moods

            Celtic Women


Happy Listening! 


Celebrate Stevie Wonder!

Were  you aware that Stevie Wonder has been in the music business for fifty years?  What a career he has had and I hope he has many more years of music -making  for us to enjoy. 

There is so much more to  him, though, than his music.  Check out some of  the   many books, DVDs and, of course, CDs here at your Southfield Public Library to explore the world of Stevie Wonder. 

What’s your favorite Stevie Wonder song?  Album? 

Click here to jump to the catalog listings.