[Ed. Note: This was published in XXL's Dec/Jan 2012 Issue with the title "What's The Word?"]

More rappers than ever are turning to books to scratch their creative itch. A list of the 10 best ever

Words: Adam Fleischer, Jesse Gissen, Mark Lelinwalla, Jayson Rodriguez
Images: Socrates Gomez

These days, when rappers pull out a pen and a pad, or even get on the computer or their smart phones, it’s not certain they do so with the intent of writing a rhyme. More and more MCs are using their creative talents to turn a gift for words into literary works, instead of recorded tracks. Over the years, rhyme slingers from prodigy to C-Murder to 50 Cent to Jay Z have released their own tomes, ranging from memoirs to novels to guides behind their rhymes. Traditionally, only journalists, scholars and outsiders took aim at putting hip-hop in book form, but as the culture has expanded, more artists have cranked out material for the page, becoming players in the literary world. Most recently, Common, T.I. and Odd Future have released projects, with Nas’s coming down the pike. Here, XXL recaps the 10 best rapper-penned books of all time. Bookmark this.