11 Essential Hip-Hop Books

Hip-hop in its earliest incarnations was an experiential thing — not just because rappers and DJs had yet to secure the backing of major labels, but because their work depended on the texture and context that only a cramped nightclub or a sweaty multipurpose room could provide. Even as rap became a massive commercial force, it preserved the thrill of the impermanent: the sample chopped or flipped on the spot only to be nixed by the folks in legal affairs, the virtuosic freestyle that trails off into nothing. The ephemerality was the point. To step back from the scene and tie yourself to a particular, static critical analysis was to miss what might happen next.
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