I know what you’re thinking.
This stuff is old. Everything in this book has been published previously online. For free. So why should you waste your time reading it in this book? (If you paid money for it, I’m sure you’re doubly curious for an answer.) And while there is a brand new introduction before each chapter, that’s not enough.
I get it. It’s a fair point. If you were so inclined, you could go to my website and the others on which the pieces contained herein were published and read them there. Or, you could go one step further and print them out, arrange them in order, bind them, and create your very own copy.
So why did I go to the trouble of putting this together? Was it vanity? Arrogance? Stupidity?
Probably all of the above.
But I did have a larger goal in mind. This book is not just an attempt to trick people into handing over their hard-earned cash. This volume is more than simply a compilation. The idea is that it is greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, it is a collection of items written on the topic of hip-hop over the past half-decade or so, but I didn’t simply repackage every piece I’ve published in that time. In fact, most were left out. Regarding those that did make the cut, I chose each entry carefully and was meticulous in placing them in a certain order. I’ve also edited and clarified when the situation called for it. Taken together, it all forms a singular cohesive vision and narrative.
While the subject matter is uniform throughout, the details vary drastically. Some are longform profiles on individuals like LL Cool J, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, and Macklemore. Others are rankings and lists, like the best Wu-Tang Clan albums or my favorite rap books and documentaries. Some are autobiographical stories growing up as a hip-hop superfan. Still others are deeply researched columns on subtopics such as Eminem’s late-career change in sound or the way online piracy changed the game in 1999.
In totality, this book attempts to form a complete picture of a culture that exploded from an underground movement to a billion-dollar global entity in a few short decades. Virtually every important artist and event of the past twenty-plus years in mentioned somewhere in the next two-hundred pages.
So why should you read this book?
Because it’s really good. But I’m biased. Why don’t you turn the page and see if you agree with me?
This was adapted from the introduction to Christopher Pierznik’s latest book, Hip-Hop Scholar, available in paperback and Kindle NOW!
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.