April Book Review: Hip Hop U.S. History by Blake Harrison & Alex Rappaport


Hip Hop U.S. History by Blake Harrison & Alex Rappaport

At first glance I thought this book may not get a good review but after listening to the accompanied disc I changed my mind. I still would’ve done the review because I have to make sure my audience is getting real feedback. I don’t get endorsements for book reviews and I have to purchase every book that I review so I’m not going to waste my money on a book I don’t think serves its purpose within our context. This book is a great addition to any history teacher’s classroom. Starting with middle school aged students I think this book would really have an impact on students. If you’re a history tutor you can use this book also.

The reason the authors choose Hip Hop to interpret history is because they felt that “there is nothing more engaging or immediate than Hip Hop music” and I couldn’t agree more. The book is divided into fifteen chapters that start from discovering America to the establishment of the United States of America. The book has a disc that includes actual Hip Hop songs that go with every chapter. The lyrics to the music are inside the book alongside the traditionally presented information. It also gives the background story to enhance the students’ critical thinking skills. This book would be a major hit for my enlightened conscious readers as the facts they share are not taught in school. Talking about the negative side of history versus what the schools or what American society wants to teach your children. They talk about Christopher Columbus stealing from the land and Aztecs having slaves. They even talk about Sacagawea leading Lewis & Clark through the Rockies and how Lewis committed suicide once the expedition ended. The track that accompanies this chapter is titled ‘O.D.W.M.’ which is an acronym for old dead white men. The songs were written by the authors and performed by various emcees.

The book goes into the Civil Rights era, Jazz, and slavery. A rapping Harriett Tubman even spits some bars on the disc. World War I, the KKK, prohibition, and the Harlem Renaissance are also covered. This book does not give the traditional one-sided story of American history. It tells a tale of two Americas and how the United States we know today came to be. It does not sugarcoat history and gives students the real deal. After studying the CD alone I’m sure your student could pass a history test and teach some teachers a few things. This gives your young revolutionary their early understanding of how the real America works; the corruption, the bloodshed, and the monopolization. I recommend this book for high school students also because they can learn the other side of history.

This book is giving fact and not opinion or coincidence. There is a bibliography and references in the appendix. This book was written in 2006 and if they had some updates it would be even more impeccable. I like for books like this to stay updated but the past isn’t changing so I guess they aren’t going to update it. These authors have other works that include SAT testing and AP history study guides. If you played the disc your elementary school student could learn a thing or two as well. I recommend this book to all educators, parents, and history buffs. Check it out for yourself but just make sure you pop that CD in!

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