Hip-Hop Is History

Hip-Hop Is History

by Questlove, Ben Greenman

Narrated by Questlove

Unabridged — 11 hours, 20 minutes

Hip-Hop Is History

Hip-Hop Is History

by Questlove, Ben Greenman

Narrated by Questlove

Unabridged — 11 hours, 20 minutes

Audiobook (Digital)

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Overview

Recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York City, the audiobook features narration and storytelling by Questlove, who expertly weaves together a rich sonic tapestry of hip-hop tales large and small, well-known and obscure. From hearing “Rapper's Delight” for the first time in 1979 to directing and producing the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop for the 2023 GRAMMYs, Questlove guides listeners through a musical journey brought to life by Questlove himself.

This program is read by the author.

"[Questlove's] performance is a comfortable blend of pro-level reading and genuine enthusiasm that is punctuated with tasty sound effects and quotes delivered by an unnamed voice talent. Along with his keen insights on racial politics and culture, his easy-to-hear performance will make listeners feel like they are “in the room” with the personalities and cultural energy of each era." -AudioFile on Music Is History.

This is a book only Questlove could have written: a perceptive and personal reflection on the first half-century of hip-hop.


When hip-hop first emerged in the 1970s, it wasn't expected to become the cultural force it is today. But for a young Black kid growing up in a musical family in Philadelphia, it was everything. He stayed up late to hear the newest songs on the radio. He saved his money to buy vinyl as soon as it landed. He even started to try to make his own songs. That kid was Questlove, and decades later, he is a six-time Grammy Award-winning musician, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, a New York Times bestselling author, a producer, an entrepreneur, a cofounder of one of hip-hop's defining acts (the Roots), and the genre's unofficial in-house historian.

In this landmark book, Hip-Hop Is History, Questlove skillfully traces the creative and cultural forces that made and shaped hip-hop, highlighting both the forgotten but influential gems and the undeniable chart-topping hits-and weaves it all together with the stories no one else knows. It is at once an intimate, sharply observed story of a cultural revolution and a sweeping, grand theory of the evolution of the great artistic movement of our time. And Questlove, of course, approaches it with not only the encyclopedic fluency and passion of an obsessive fan but also the expertise and originality of an innovative participant.

Hip-hop is history, and also his history.

A Macmillan Audio production from AUWA Books.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/11/2024

Roots drummer Questlove (Music Is History) lays down a kaleidoscopic chronicle of hip-hop’s 50-year history of “diversity and vision... flummery and flaws,” beginning with the 1973 Bronx party during which DJ Kool Herc began isolating and repeating songs’ beats on turntables. From there, Questlove recounts how the Sugarhill Gang differentiated their sound from disco music by telling “comic stories over the groove, at great length and with great enthusiasm”; documents how the rise of such star producers as Dr. Dre shifted hip hop’s center of gravity from the East Coast to the West in the 1990s; and claims that the popularity of drug-related songs in the 2010s marked a cultural moment of “willful numbing” by hip-hop artists disillusioned with the lost promise of a “better future led by a Black president.” Throughout, Questlove interweaves sharp and lyrical analyses of hip-hop’s evolution with fascinating, up-close recollections of the genre’s turning points, noting, for example, that Eminem’s 1999 album The Slim Shady LP released on the same day as the Roots’ Things Fall Apart, and provoked questions about what it meant for a “white rapper in a mostly Black genre” to “bea sales records left and right.” It’s an exuberant account of a dynamic musical genre and the cultural climate in which it evolved. (June)

From the Publisher

"A memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form. . . Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special."

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Questlove closely examines the social, political, and artistic factors contributing to hip-hop’s growth, many facets and styles, stars, controversies, innovations, and far-ranging influence. This is a must-read . . . Questlove’s illuminating and insightful survey is as personal as it is expert.”

Booklist (starred review)

"A kaleidoscopic chronicle of hip-hop’s 50-year history. . . Throughout, Questlove interweaves sharp and lyrical analyses of hip-hop’s evolution with fascinating, up-close recollections of the genre’s turning points. . . an exuberant account of a dynamic musical genre and the cultural climate in which it evolved."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Library Journal

06/01/2024

Academy Award-winning filmmaker/drummer/DJ/music historian and cofounder of the Roots, Questlove (coauthor, The Rhythm of Time)—with the help of Ben Greenman (coauthor, I Am Brian Wilson)—delivers an impressionistic history of hip-hop from 1979 to the present. Linking different hip-hop eras to contemporary events and Questlove's connection to it, the book begins with hip-hop pioneers, such as the Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. The title chronicles mainstream success with Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, who introduced hard-rock guitars into the mix. The emergence of Afro-centric hip-hop with N.W.A., A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, and the Bomb Squad-produced Public Enemy are noted, along with the blockbusters by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the gangsta rap of Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, and Ye's work. For the Obama presidency years, the book focuses on Drake and DJ Khaled, highlights Kendrick Lamar during the post-Obama period, and drifts until the book ends. The dominant drugs of each era are also discussed. VERDICT Well-positioned to detail the genre's evolution, this book offers hip-hop fans an engaging journey through its history, with much of its focus on the first 30 years.—Dr. Dave Szatmary

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2024-03-25
A memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form.

While historians often cast themselves as omniscient in their works, delivering facts and stories as important without acknowledging the impact of their own experiences on the narrative process, Questlove—drummer, DJ, music historian, and author of Mo’ Meta Blues, Creative Quest, and Music Is History—is forthcoming about the fact that he experienced music differently as he grew older. “I wasn’t sitting down for five hours listening to them over and over and over again, trying to unpack every nuance from every corner,” he writes, recalling his feelings decades into his relationship with the genre. “But I was—I am—a DJ, which meant that I had a professional interest in excavating the songs that worked.” The author’s observations spanning the entirety of hip-hop’s history are consistently illuminating—e.g., connecting its shift in five-year increments to the dominant drug of the period, from crack to sizzurp to opioids. However, it’s his personal connection to certain eras that make his latest book stand out. Questlove considers the late 1980s and early ’90s as the “golden age of hip-hop, when innovative MCs and innovative DJs seemed to spring up every few months, and classic albums regularly sprouted on the vine.” That era—filled with masterpieces from Public Enemy, De La Soul, and N.W.A.—is universally revered, but Questlove also recognizes that it coincides with the years between high school and when he officially became an artist—a time when he was immersed in finding inspiration and understanding the construction of hip-hop. While the author’s knowledge of hip-hop is as deep as any musicologist, it’s his passion for certain artists and songs that sets him apart.

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940159499998
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 06/11/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 486,287
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