The New York Times
Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hopby Adam Bradley
If asked to list the greatest innovators of modern American poetry, few of us would think to include Jay-Z or Eminem in their number. And yet hip hop is the source of some of the most exciting developments in verse today. The media uproar in response to its controversial lyrical content has obscured hip hop’s revolution of poetic craft and experience: Only in rap music can the beat of a song render poetic meter audible, allowing an MC’s wordplay to move a club-full of eager listeners.
Examining rap history’s most memorable lyricists and their inimitable techniques, literary scholar Adam Bradley argues that we must understand rap as poetry or miss the vanguard of poetry today. Book of Rhymes explores America’s least understood poets, unpacking their surprisingly complex craft, and according rap poetry the respect it deserves.
The New York Times
With hip-hop's tremendous growth over the last decade, the amount of literature covering the genre has increased considerably. Yet, few books have been devoted exclusively to the poetic elements of hip-hop. Having studied under such luminaries as Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Bradley (literature, Claremont McKenna Coll.) is emerging as a pioneering scholar in the study of hip-hop. Here, he shows that rap can be analyzed as literary verse while recognizing its essential identity as music. Dissecting hip-hop's dual rhythmic voice-rhymes over beats-Bradley uncovers rap's poetic tradition as well as its progressive contributions to the medium of poetry. He explains terms such as assonance and consonance through the lyrics of Keats and Eminem. Rap is a relatively new genre of music, but lyrical analysis reveals the use of intricate structures steeped in poetic tradition. This refreshing read challenges common assumptions that hip-hop is simple or mundane. Recommended for all public and academic libraries; this will particularly appeal to hip-hop artists and aficionados, poets, and literature students and scholars of the hip-hop generation or younger.
“[Bradley] lays out a nuanced, academically rigorous argument that the best hip-hop deserves attention as genuine artistry.... He traces the word rhythm from the Greek rheo, or flow. Biggie had flow; Jay-Z has flow. For an English professor, Adam Bradley got some flow of his own.”
Dallas Morning News
“Excellent.... Where so many hip-hop studies lean heavily on politics and sociology, Book of Rhymes is a welcome and thorough exploration of rap aesthetics that isn’t afraid to be learned.”
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“As comfortable in the company of Jay-Z as he is with John Donne, Adam Bradley is a visionary critic, skillful and wise. His Book of Rhymes is a tour de force, brilliantly renovating hip hop criticism as he rescues the forgotten vanguard of American poetry.”
“Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes is a marvelous exploration into the poetic genius of rap and the cultural gravity of Hip Hop. His analysis is subtle, sophisticated, and soulful!”
Jeff Chang, editor, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
“Where some hear noise, Adam Bradley hears the past and future of poetics. With taste, precision, and style, Book of Rhymes explains the art of rap in ways as bold, lyrical, and imaginative as the art form itself. Heads and theorists will find much to love and argue with in this fine work.”
“All I can say is wowit was like somebody was reading my mind. So many books have been written about hip hop's historythat time and that magicbut if you don't get it from reading Book of Rhymes, then you're just not going to get it.”
Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Bradley delivers the intellectual dynamite with this astonishingly researched, passionately argued glove-across-the-face challenge to traditional hip hop scholarship. Superb on every level, a revelation and a joy to read.”
“Bradley’s book is ultimately successful, with a readable text that can engage diehard hip-hop heads, conventional poetry buffs or any combination of the two.”
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Hachette Digital, Inc.
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 263 KB
Meet the Author
Adam Bradley, a Harvard PhD, is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Claremont McKenna College. He lives in Claremont, California.
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I luv hip hop
This book is a highly detailed account of the poetics of Hip Hop (as the title points out), but what isn't shown on the cover is the beauty of rhyming and the implications Hip Hop has in a social context. Not only does Bradley break down poetry and rhythm, he shows the reader a view of Hip Hop only the most devoted heads can see. While he defends Hip Hop as an art, he also points out its faults and how Hip Hop has been misinterpreted. This is a book for true Hip Hop heads and critics alike. Extremely well done.
wow dis is awsome