The Anthology of Rap

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Overview

From the school yards of the South Bronx to the tops of the Billboard charts, rap has emerged as one of the most influential musical and cultural forces of our time. In The Anthology of Rap, editors Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois explore rap as a literary form, demonstrating that rap is also a wide-reaching and vital poetic tradition born of beats and rhymes.

This pioneering anthology brings together more than three hundred rap and hip-hop lyrics written over thirty years, from the “old school” to the “golden age” to the present day. Rather than aim for encyclopedic coverage, Bradley and DuBois render through examples the richness and diversity of rap’s poetic tradition. They feature both classic lyrics that helped define the genre, including Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message” and Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend,” as well as lesser-known gems like Blackalicious’s “Alphabet Aerobics” and Jean Grae’s “Hater’s Anthem.”

Both a fan’s guide and a resource for the uninitiated, The Anthology of Rap showcases the inventiveness and vitality of rap’s lyrical art. The volume also features an overview of rap poetics and the forces that shaped each period in rap’s historical development, as well as a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and afterwords by Chuck D and Common. Enter the Anthology to experience the full range of rap’s artistry and discover a rich poetic tradition hiding in plain sight.

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Editorial Reviews

Alan Light
The Anthology serves several functions: it's a repository of significant lyrics…a history of the music by eras; and an encyclopedia of performers, with a brief, well-written biography for each…this landmark work chronicles an earth-shattering movement with deep roots.
—The New York Times
Touré

"This monumental encyclopedia of rhymes is great for hip-hop newbies or longtime fans, lyric lovers and poetry devotees. It's an invaluable reference on hip-hop history spanning from Afrika Bambaataa to Kanye West."—Touré

Touré

"This monumental encyclopedia of rhymes is great for hip-hop newbies or longtime fans, lyric lovers and poetry devotees. It''s an invaluable reference on hip-hop history spanning from Afrika Bambaataa to Kanye West."—Touré

LA Weekly
"The Anthology of Rap reaffirms the enduring force of the written word—or at least the immaculately constructed freestyle."—LA Weekly
Slate
"The eye-opening essay by [Henry Louis] Gates. . . provides deep historical context for rap; it alone makes the book worth owning."—Slate
Creative Loafing
"A great, necessary addition to the book collection of any contemporary music aficionado."—Creative Loafing
The Globe and Mail

"Reading The Anthology of Rap, which covers everything from Afrika Bambaataa to Young Jeezy, it's hard not to appreciate rap's astounding love of words, of the way they fit together and play off each other, and of how meaning can be layered upon meaning to get at a deeper truth. Which sounds an awful lot like poetry."—Joshua Ostroff, The Globe and Mail

— Joshua Ostroff

PopMatters

"[The] editors of The Anthology of Rap supply a much needed injection of energy and enthusiasm into our analysis of hip-hop's lyricism."—Quentin B. Huff, PopMatters

— Quentin B. Huff

The New York Times Book Review
"This landmark work chronicles an earth-shattering movement with deep roots."—The New York Times Book Review
Mother Jones
"An awesome compilation: 920 pages of some of the baddest, phattest, flyist tracks ever dropped."—Mother Jones
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[The] anthology offers the good, the bad, and the offensive—and plenty of food for intelligent discussion."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Los Angeles Times
"A complete encyclopedia of the history, personalities, beats, rhythm and rhymes of the musical genre from the old school of Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five to hip-hop and Kanye West."—Los Angeles Times
The Boston Globe

"The authors have built a poignant collection of rhythm and rhyme. . . . For hard-core hip-hop heads, this book confirms what we have always known: that some of the most innovative writing hails from the imagination of the rapper."—Idris Goodwin, The Boston Globe
— Idris Goodwin

The Village Voice
"What could have been an insufferable rap-snob collectible ended up being one of the first truly encyclopedic, essential anthologies on the form. . . . It's an Ivy League master class in the language of hip-hop. Register today."—Foster Kamer, The Village Voice (Best Books of 2010)

— Foster Kamer

The New York Review of Books

"The Anthology of Rap is among the best books of its kind ever published."—Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books

— Dan Chiasson

Boston Music Spotlight
"An exquisite display of the artistic talent seen with rap music."—Boston Music Spotlight
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Intelligent and authentic. . . written for both the hip-hop head and the uninitiated."—James Johnson, Philadelphia Inquirer
— James Johnson

Barnes and Noble Review
"[The Anthology of Rap] makes the case for the immediate and enduring relevance of [rap's] poetic tradition."—Barnes and Noble Review
New England Book Festival

Honorable mention in the Compilations/Anthologies category of the 2010 New England Book Festival, given by the JM Northern Media family of festivals

— New England Book Festival Compilation/Anthologies Category

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“An essential contribution to our living literary tradition. . . . This groundbreaking anthology masterfully assembles part of a new vanguard of American poetry.”—from the Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The New York Review of Books - Dan Chiasson
"The Anthology of Rap is among the best books of its kind ever published."—Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books
The Village Voice - Foster Kamer
"What could have been an insufferable rap-snob collectible ended up being one of the first truly encyclopedic, essential anthologies on the form. . . . It's an Ivy League master class in the language of hip-hop. Register today."—Foster Kamer, The Village Voice (Best Books of 2010)
Chuck D
"Every great literature deserves a great anthology. Rap finally has its own."—from the Afterword by Chuck D
Nikki Giovanni
“From the Sing Song cadence of the slave preachers to the emotional bravery of Tupac Shakur to the clarity of Queen Latifah…for all the hearts and heads and voices who have still to be heard: We Now Have an Encyclopedia. Good for us. Much needed. Much needed.”—Nikki Giovanni
Cornel West
"The Anthology of Rap is an instant classic. It brings together the lyric poetry of some of the greatest artists of our time. Hip Hop is here to stay and rap lives forever—on the stage and now on the page!"—Cornel West
Sonia Sanchez
"These Rappers' lyrics love. Cut. Curse. Fight. Teach. Play. Pray. Testify. They bring us the pace of sound. The swiftness of sound. The discordant way of looking at the world of sound. The Blackness of sound. The new bebopic beat of sound. These are word sorcerers who love language and hablar sin bastón (speak without a crutch)."—Sonia Sanchez
Tour�
"This monumental encyclopedia of rhymes is great for hip-hop newbies or longtime fans, lyric lovers and poetry devotees. It's an invaluable reference on hip-hop history spanning from Afrika Bambaataa to Kanye West."—Touré
Billy Collins
“Some readers of poetry still wonder where the rhymes went. One answer is they left the ends of the lines and went inside the poem. But rhyme also strongly re-emerges in rap. Whatever the stakes or the messages contained in this monumental volume, the like-sounds that used to be the engine of English poetry drive and power these energetic lyrics.”—Billy Collins
Bookforum - Kevin Young
"The editors have been bold and often brilliant. . . . The Anthology of Rap is as ambitious and intelligent as anyone might want, and more enjoyable than anyone might think. . . . If you want to hear how the latter part of the twentieth century sounded, you can't do better than this book."—Kevin Young, Bookforum
New York Magazine - Sam Anderson
"This thrilling (but controversial) textual monument to a thrilling (but controversial) oral tradition wrestles the genre's greatest lyricists out of the airwaves and into cold print. . . . [It] enables something wonderful: the ability to sit in perfect silence and roll around in, for example, the lust Keatsian soundplay of Jay-Z."—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine, "The Year in Books"
The Globe and Mail - Joshua Ostroff
"Reading The Anthology of Rap, which covers everything from Afrika Bambaataa to Young Jeezy, it's hard not to appreciate rap's astounding love of words, of the way they fit together and play off each other, and of how meaning can be layered upon meaning to get at a deeper truth. Which sounds an awful lot like poetry."—Joshua Ostroff, The Globe and Mail
PopMatters - Quentin B. Huff
"[The] editors of The Anthology of Rap supply a much needed injection of energy and enthusiasm into our analysis of hip-hop's lyricism."—Quentin B. Huff, PopMatters
The Boston Globe - Idris Goodwin
"The authors have built a poignant collection of rhythm and rhyme. . . . For hard-core hip-hop heads, this book confirms what we have always known: that some of the most innovative writing hails from the imagination of the rapper."—Idris Goodwin, The Boston Globe
Philadelphia Inquirer - James Johnson
"Intelligent and authentic. . . written for both the hip-hop head and the uninitiated."—James Johnson, Philadelphia Inquirer
New England Book Festival - New England Book Festival Compilation/Anthologies Category
Honorable mention in the Compilations/Anthologies category of the 2010 New England Book Festival, given by the JM Northern Media family of festivals
Toure
This monumental encyclopedia of rhymes is great for hip-hop newbies or longtime fans, lyric lovers and poetry devotees. It's an invaluable reference on hip-hop history spanning from Afrika Bambaataa to Kanye West.(Touré)
Common
"What you hold in your hands is more than a book. This is a culture. This is hip-hop. . . . This book offers a view of rap in full, from the root to the fruit."—from the Afterword by Common
Bookforum

"The editors have been bold and often brilliant. . . . The Anthology of Rap is as ambitious and intelligent as anyone might want, and more enjoyable than anyone might think. . . . If you want to hear how the latter part of the twentieth century sounded, you can't do better than this book."—Kevin Young, Bookforum

— Kevin Young

New York Magazine
"Listen along on YouTube and it's a self-taught class on the genre's history."—New York Magazine
Library Journal
The importance of virtuosity at wordplay becomes abundantly clear in the rich vocabulary of rap lyrics. In Bradley's previous Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, he dissects the poetic structures in rap music, contextualizing the genre within the large canon of poetry. Here, Bradley and DuBois (English, Univ. of Toronto at Scarborough) expand upon this effort by reflecting on the history of rap music and its growing canon of lyrics. The anthology is organized around four eras of rap: old-school, the golden age, mainstream, and the new millennium. Within each of these sections, individual artists are identified for both their artistic influence and cultural impact. VERDICT Functioning as a rap reader, the anthology is largely a collection of lyrics. However, those uninterested in poetical analysis may read it as a chronology of rap that highlights significant figures in its short history and offers a window into how rappers harmonize the world through a distinct form of self-expression. [Previewed in "25 Reasons Why Academic Publishing Is Sexier Than You Think," BookSmack!7/15/10.]—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300141917
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 928
  • Sales rank: 412,499
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Bradley is associate professor of English at the University of Colorado and the author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop and Ralph Ellison in Progress. He is also co-editor of Ralph Ellison’s unfinished second novel, Three Days Before the Shooting. Andrew DuBois is associate professor of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the author of Ashbery’s Forms of Attention. He is also co-editor of Close Reading: The Reader.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 4, 2011

    fantastic read

    any lover of rap would love this book. I also thought it was awesome how so many Rappers came out in support of the book, its elevation of rap and the accuracy of lyrics

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    Full of mistakes

    Go read the article on this book, "Stakes Is High" by Paul Devlin in Slate magazine (can be found online)

    It shows in that article that there are errors in many of the lyrics of this anthology, rappers who they said have checked over their lyrics actually did not, and the advisory board have spoken out against the book, saying it is full of mistakes.

    The editors have said they will correct the book in a new edition, so wait for the next edition!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    awesome!!

    This book is a landmark!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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