April Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture by Yvonne Bynoe

The Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture by Yvonne Bynoe

The “Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture” by Yvonne Bynoe is the basic Hip Hop guide that should be included in everyone’s library. Just like a traditional encyclopedia any questions you have about an artist can be answered with a quick reference into this work. The book was written in 2006 and stretched back to the beginnings of Hip Hop Culture. This manuscript contains the New York State Senate’s Proclamation recognizing November as Hip Hop History Month. As we know November is the month we celebrate the release of three historical Hip Hop albums. Also shared in the book is the Bronx’s Proclamation declaring May 14 Hip Hop Appreciation Week beginning in 2001. The encyclopedia covers all the elements of Hip Hop siting legendary B-boy crews, famous graffiti artists, DJs, and of course the MC.

Ms. Bynoe did her research with a fine tooth comb as some artists you may hardly remember and others take you right back to the golden era! Vernacular descriptions as well as discography of a multitude of classic albums that should be in everyone’s catalogue. There are descriptions of groundbreaking radio and television stations and discusses other monumental moments in Hip Hop music. Anyone who you can think of that is of importance to our beloved Hip Hop Culture is described within these pages. The pictures though not in color still serve their purpose and provide you with an idea of what the culture was in the early years.

This is a review so I’m giving you the good and the bad. I use this during sessions because the information in this book cannot be gathered so easily by looking online. However, the book was issued in 2006 so as always an updated version would sell like hotcakes! With that said in the true fashion of encyclopedias I would absolutely love for this to be a complete encyclopedia and have multiple volumes. I’m glad that she describes the language of Hip Hop in the early ages but nobody says those things and they didn’t in 2006 either.

What is an encyclopedia without the entries that shouldn’t have made the cut? “Name buckles” for instance was wasted space. Name buckles weren’t that big of a trend and became wack real quick. Just because Shaq made a Rap CD doesn’t mean he should’ve been in the encyclopedia. Maybe we can let Shaq slide which shows a flaw in media in general, editing is up to the writer or producers’ discretion. Terms like producer, which we already know, could’ve been left out as well. 

Overall, this book is a great reference tool especially when you need a quick reference tool to go to. A lot of other books on Hip Hop Culture are stories about the time and what was going on. This book is a concrete fact-filled volume. I could only hope that Yvonne Bynoe is working on an updated edition. There could be a lot of ill feelings surrounding this book with everyone and everything not being able to make the cut. Some Rappers today wouldn’t be worth the ink. The author may be conflicted about publishing a new edition I wouldn’t be surprised if some people hit her with some backlash especially being a female in the game. For me personally that’d be all the more reason to release an updated version and remain true to the culture as I do it. This work does a great job of trying to encompass it all and describes at least the topic at the core of Hip Hop Culture. I endorse this book and urge you to add it to your library.

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