The Anthology of Rap [2011; Paperback 928 pages]
From the school yards of the South Bronx to the tops of the Billboard charts, rap has emerged as one of the most influential cultural forces of our time. In “The Anthology of Rap“, editors Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois demonstrate 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 lyrics written over thirty years, from the ‘old school’ to the ‘golden age’ to the present day. Rather than aim for encyclopaedic 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’ “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. This 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 an afterword by Common. Enter the anthology to experience the full range of rap’s artistry and discover a rich poetic tradition hiding in plain sight. (Source: Amazon.com)
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English professors Bradley and DuBois make history in this rock-solid collection of hundreds of thoughtfully selected lyrics of recorded rap music produced between the late 1970s and now. For fans, this is an obvious treasure. For skeptical listeners and readers, this mega-anthology strips away rap’s performance elements and allows the language itself to pulse, break, spin, and strut in poems of audacity, outrage, insight, sweetness, and nastiness. Here is meter and rhyme, distillation, metaphor, misdirection, leaps of imagination, appropriation, improvisation, and a “vivid vocabulary” that can be explicit, offensive, funny, dumb, and transcendent. In their thorough and energetic introduction, Bradley and DuBois offer a concise history of rap and a keen discussion of its aesthetics, with an emphasis on written lyrics. Proceeding chronologically, from “The Old School,” 1978–84, to “The Golden Age,” 1985–92; “Rap Goes Mainstream,” 1993–99; and “New Millennium Rap,” they analyze each movement and profile each artist or group, from Kurtis Blow to Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, NWA, Queen Latifah, Common, Lil’ Kim, Outkast, 2Pac, the Wu-Tang Clan, Eve, and legions more. Electrifying. (Review by Donna Seaman.)
About the Authors
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.
By the same author:
Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop [2009; Paperback 272 pages]
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.