The year in hip-hop books
It was around this time last year that I began reviewing books on my own site on a semi-regular basis. Since then, I've read and reviewed 20 or so books, though I think I may have read a few more than I actually got around to reviewing. No John Stockton. I probably would've done twice as many if I hadn't started working at this asshole factory back in March.
Most of them didn't really have shit to do with hip-hop because, really, who wants to read an entire book about this bullshit, but at least a few of them did. I was fortunate in that some publishers of hip-hop books actually sent me free copies of them. (The ones who didn't can of course eat my ass.) That was the case with four of the five books featured here.
For my takes on some older hip-hop books, check out a post I once wrote called Five books about hip-hop.
Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler
Notorious '80s-era Queens drug dealers like Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff and Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols have been immortalized in the lyrics of rappers like Nas and 50 Cent, but I'll admit not knowing very much about them until I read Ethan Brown's Queens Reigns Supreme.
As it turns out, their story is damn interesting. It's no wonder rappers are always shouting them out. Fat Cat and the rest of these celebrity drug dealer types ran the shitty (-er) parts of Queens as if it was the Wild West or some shit. Today's crack rappers are all pussies by comparison.
Never Drank the Kool-Aid
Toure's Never Drank the Kool-Aid is one of these anthologies of magazine stories and essays a writer puts out once he's too busy getting that TV guap to write anymore stories for bitch-ass publications like the Village Voice.
It's not normally my m.o. to contribute to some other d-bag's semi-retirement, but fortunately Toure has written a wealth of interesting stories over the past 12 years or so, including features on most of the top figures in hip-hop today.
Check my review for a list of the ones I found most interesting.
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop is a ridonkulously large book, and if you've seen it in bookstores you may be wondering what the fuck is in it. As it turns out, rather than some exhaustive history of hip-hop the music, CSWS is an exhaustive history of hip-hop the ancillary social issues.
I was with the overall concept, but I had my share of issues with the actual execution, which you can peep in my review. I should note though that most people who read this found it to be the best thing since whoever first thought to combine chocolate and peanut butter.
Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from the NYPD's First "Hip-Hop Cop"
My pick for hip-hop book of the year (check out the story I did on it this summer), Notorious C.O.P. chronicles "hip-hop cop" Derrick Parker's investigations into the 2Pac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay murders.
You don't learn much more about who actually pulled the trigger in each of these cases, but you do get a pretty good idea why none of them have been solved thus far, despite the victims being such high profile figures.
Bling: The Hip-Hop Jewelry Book
Reggie Osse and Gabriel Tolliver's Bling charts the rise of hip-hop jewelry from the days when jigs could only afford those chains used car salesmen wear all the way up to the present, when rappers are walking around with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bullshit just in their mouths.
It's relatively lightweight reading compared to the likes of the Jeff Chang book, but how much do you really want to know about gold chains and such anyway? The overall presentation is nice and slick (no "Leather So Soft") and the pictures are downright hilarious.
Peep: Bling: Book Review