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Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic Paperback – December 29, 2009
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“A vital book for readers eager to understand the history of the genre.”
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The following info has already been mentioned in other reviews, but is important:
This is a collection of essays connected to the tracks off of Nas' classic album "Illmatic." There is an essay for every song, including the intro, plus bonus commentary, interviews, and the original 5 Mic review from the Source. If one wants a "making of" version of Illmatic, then definately buy the 33 1/3 book for Illmatic.Nas' Illmatic (33 1/3 series)
If you are thinking of buying this book, answer these two questions:
1. Do you think a fair interpretation of the second line in "The World Is Yours" ("writin in my book of rhymes, all the words pass the margin") could be "The margins also serve as a metaphor for urban youth relegated to the margins by being forced to work within clearly defined legal, economic, social, and political parameters (i.e., margins)."?
2. Would you agree that "N.Y. State of Mind" is "a bird's-eye view, a series of close-ups and cutaways that not only allows us to imagine the land-mine littered landscape of the globe under American power - but also to see the connections between the forces that have devastated urban centers in the United States and those that are destroying lives throughout the Third World"?
If the answer is "Yes," definitely buy the book. If you answered, "No" or "I'm not sure" then this book might not be for you. Personally, I found these connections very clever, but I kept thinking, "I don't think this was on Nas' mind when he wrote this." My recommendation, look at the library first or borrow from a friend. The additional essays and interviews are very good.Read more ›
Some Hip-Hop books have a LOT of input from MCs/producers like Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies, How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... (33 1/3), and Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop (Music Culture)... but this isn't one of those kind of books.
Born to Use Mics is essentially a series of essays written on Illmatic, so don't be disappointed if you buy it expecting MC/producer quotes and stories like in the above books, because that isn't what this book is about.
So judging it on what it is - a collection of academic analyzes of various themes in the subject matter of Illmatic - it does this extremely well, with some of the most insightful break downs of the socio-political aspects of Hip-Hop that I have seen, from some of the best academic writers.
Each essay is themed around one of the tracks on the album, and they touch on a lot of the references in the lyrics and go in depth to cover the intricacies that Nas put into the subject matter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The perspectives given are wise, well spoken and gives a genius insight into hip hop and nas' s world viewPublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
Not real impressed with this one. Still a huge nas fan but didn't really feel the commentary. And the sister that obsessed over the mysogony in the "I Can" video is really... Read morePublished on October 18, 2011 by t don
I didn't finish this book. After reading a few chapters of Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Lamont Hill spout off about how the whole world revolves around race and everything we... Read morePublished on July 21, 2011 by Amazon Customer
I thought the Book was more a comprehensive review of each song on Illmatic but it borders between that, and a essay "on what this song means to me" type of book in some chapters.Published on August 23, 2010 by Phategod1
i found this book to be educational and informative. it highlights Nas' first album as a product of the broader sociological context in which it was released. Read morePublished on February 12, 2010 by Mystery