Tag Archives: poetry

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.


Black History Month 2015

February is Black History Month and we’re excited to celebrate some of our favorite African-American authors.  Here are some great books to discover or enjoy for a second read.

I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou This autobiography  covers the poet’s  life and struggles through her formative years. Despite her troubles, the book emphasizes the power of the human spirit. I know why the caged bird sings is also the topic for February’s Creecy Book Discussion group.

Beloved by Toni Morrison Sethe was born a slave but escaped to Ohio. She is still haunted by the horror of her former life and the baby she was forced to kill in order to prevent being recaptured. Beloved is a hauntingly beautiful read that is full of suspense.

The girl who fell from the sky by Heidi W. Durrow After a family tragedy, Rachel is sent to live with her African-American  grandmother. As the daughter of Danish mother and African-American father, Rachel is forced to confront her racial identity for the first time. As she grieves, she must also piece together the mystery surrounding her parent’s death. The girl who fell from the sky is a beautiful coming of age story as well as a thoughtful commentary on racism and identity.

Pym by Mat Johnson Chris Jaynes is the only African-American English professor at a small liberal arts college. Much to the college’s dismay, he has chosen to study Edgar Allan Poe instead of African-American literature.  When he comes across a 19th-century manuscript that suggests Poe’s novel about an African diaspora colony in the South Pole may be real, he goes on an expedition to Antarctica to find out for himself.  This satirical fantasy explores race relations in America.

Twelve years a slave by Solomon Northrup Read the powerful memoir that inspired the Oscar-winning movie.  Northrup was born a free man in New York but was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  His account provides extensive detail about his experience as a slave and his quest to freedom.

The twelve tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis At fifteen-years old, Hattie flees Georgia and heads north to Philadelphia in the hope of a better life. She marries a man; but, their marriage is far from a fairy tale. Together they have eleven children, two of which die not long after birth. She decides to prepare her children for the world of struggle she has come to know. Twelve stories weave together to form a testament of a mother’s love and courage.

Let America be America again by Langston Hughes This collection of Hughes’s poems is powerful and provocative. They paint a beautiful picture of what he hopes America could be.  These iconic poems help summarize the beauty and the passion of the Harlem Renaissance.

You can find these great stories and more on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Southfield Public  Library. For more information about these authors and other influential African Americans,  stop by the Reference desk or visit our website.