School Library JournalGr 7 Up-Rap music has undeniably become part of mainstream American culture, although it continues to be shadowed by controversy. In this detailed account, Jones presents a historical perspective on this art form and traces its origins back to the oratory tradition of the griots of West African societies. He carefully shows how this ancestral style was brought to the Americas with the slave trade; how it developed and evolved within the African-American culture; and how rap became a natural outgrowth of this background. Many different groups, including those whose ``messages'' have angered the establishment, are examined. Quotes and the use of lyrics (fully documented) by a variety of rappers and other recording artists effectively enhance and expand the discussion. Black-and-white and full-color photographs and reproductions add to the book's appeal. This thorough presentation gives a more complete picture than Keith Elliot Greenberg's Rap (Lerner, 1988), and its historical examination is clearer than that in Havelock Nelson and Michael Gonzales's Bring the Noise (Harmony, 199l). A worthwhile addition.-Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Stephanie ZvirinHere's a diligent, intelligently written history of rap, with photographs, many in color, to attract browsers. Viewing rap as "a culture," not simply as a kind of music or entertainment, Jones outlines rap's history, tracing it back to orations delivered by African "griots" who went from place to place carrying news and telling stories. Using a smattering of hip-hop slang and numerous examples of lyrics to punch up his text and illustrate his examples, he talks about the evolution of both the music and the words, identifying disparate influences ranging from blues music and the artistry of rocker James Brown to Nikki Giovanni's poetry, the pungent comedy of Richard Pryor, and the words of Malcolm X. The controversies the music has engendered are examined, and there are sections on gangster rap and white and women rappers. Despite the lyrics and the photos, however, this is not magazine-style stuff that's easy to pick up and put down. It's solid, informative history in which Jones vividly establishes the importance of rap, particularly for African American youth, and shows clearly why the music, like its predecessor rock 'n' roll, is "here to stay." Nicely designed and executed in every respect, the book will be of value for both its musical and its cultural perspectives.
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