November Book Review “Rap Year Book” By: Shea Serrano


Rap Year Book By: Shea Serrano with Illustrations by Arturo Torres

This publication is not what the title says it is. Traditionally we think of a yearbook as a reflection of what happened during the course of a year. This book has given new thought to the idea of the yearbook by being more literal with the content. This book chronicles the biggest and most popular songs in Hip Hop from 1979 to 2014. So yes there are only fourteen chapters but just know that some years and some songs may have longer chapters while others may be slightly shorter, one song per chapter. I know in the Golden Age there may be songs that we think were classic yet other songs were more popular and the book recognizes those who did not make it in the book but deserve recognition for their greatness and contribution to the culture. The illustrations remind me of that guy that does nothing in your high school class but can draw his a$$ off! The artwork is pretty dope. The interpretations of the songs can be described as comprehensive. Big Pimpin by Jay Z featuring Bun B and Pimp C depicts the three emcees on a sailboat, alone.

This book has a lot of information so let’s start from the top! The book uses infographics and what the author calls lyric maps to help decipher the songs. The lyrics to all fourteen songs are rewritten in the book and the map is there to help you understand the messages in the music. Following that there is a transcript of an interview from that artist, group, or duo during their time in the industry. The book is rather thick so if you really want to study this is a good book to read. The language is more for those who are at least in high school. This book would definitely help those who like to rap at karaoke but only after a few practice sessions. This book would be sufficient for a high school literature class but I would probably pick and choose which songs I discuss in class instead of utilizing the entire book.

This is more of a Hip Hop nerd book. It doesn’t really serve a purpose but it has great information and is a good read. This is a good water cooler or barbershop conversation starter. Great debates will be had over this publication and it reminds of how far Hip Hop and Rap music has come. The fact that Lil Wayne’s A Millie made it into the book says something about the levels of lyricism that we never thought were possible. I too am a Rakim fanatic and to go from Ra to Wayne is an English major’s gift and curse. The book kind of reflects Hip Hop past, present, and future. Where we’re come and where we are currently. I hope the author continues where he left off in 2015. It’d be even cooler if he could predict the future of Hip Hop by looking at the past trends of Hip Hop and Rap music, but this book is definitely something worth copping. It doesn’t cost as much as some books on our #HipHopReads list. This book would be a great gift for the Hip Hop nerd in your life!

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