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Hip Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970s-1981 (Hip Hop Family Tree) Paperback – December 6, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Hip Hop Family Tree Series

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  • Hip Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970s-1981 (Hip Hop Family Tree)
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  • Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983 (Vol. 2)  (Hip Hop Family Tree)
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  • Hip Hop Family Tree Book 3: 1983-1984 (Vol. 3)  (Hip Hop Family Tree)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hip-hop devotee Piskor was one of Harvey Pekar’s last collaborators and here shows himself to be Pekar’s true disciple as a chronicler of popular culture. In fact, he one-ups his famous partner-mentor—Pekar, an avid and knowledgeable fan of bebop, never scripted a whole book on his passion. Moreover, Piskor intends this book to be the first of several tracing the history of what is still, 40 years after its emergence, the most important stylistic development in pop music since rock ’n’ roll. The large-format volume is strictly a chronicle, presenting the major figures in hip-hop as they appear and make their impressions on the music. It’s full of names while barren of explanation, description, analysis, and even, oddly enough, dates (though for fans of hip-hop, that likely won’t be a deterrent). Piskor’s artwork seems equally indebted to the looks of golden-age DC superhero comics and Pekar’s greatest collaborator, R. Crumb. Besides the bibliography, discography, and index expected of a pop-music-history reference work, Piskor provides an appendix-in-comics on his personal understanding of “The Hip Hop/Comic Book Connection.” --Ray Olson

Review

“He’s not just doin’ a comic book, he’s doin' a piece of history.” (Darryl “DMC” McDaniels)

“When cartoonist Ed Piskor decided to unspool the labyrinth history of one of America’s greatest artistic accomplishments, he spared no effort to immerse his readers in the era of jump suits and scarred vinyl. Everything in Hip Hop Family Tree screams nostalgia: the Ben-Day dots, the sepia discoloration…even the print feels course and pulpy, like a priceless cultural artifact unearthed in a garage sale or your dad’s basement. Flipping through the oversized pages, you can almost hear the slap bass, horn swells, and ricocheting rhymes of hip-hop’s inaugural years.” (Sean Edgar - Paste)

“An astonishing feat of cultural archaeology, in both ambition and execution. The project somehow doesn’t seem quite real: a comic-book history of hip-hop going back to the very beginning ― the late 70s ― where lore is thick and documentation scarce. To tell this story in any language would be a challenge; to tell it in the language of comics feels like a magical summoning.” (Lary Wallace - Vice)

“One of the defining histories of hip hop… Ed created a portal into the beginning of hip hop, and just saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is a poor way of explaining why its impact is greater than that of a detailed book.” (Daniel Genis - The Daily Beast)

Action-packed, fun and funny.” (Seattle Times)

“Captures the personalities, imagery and milestones with a hilarity and efficiency that no other medium could.” (Billboard)

“This is the comic of all time.” (Biz Markie)

“The amount of research and history Piskor packs into this book is mind boggling.” (The Huffington Post)

“These stories are carefully researched and detailed along with great comic book style art...” (The Source)

“An avid lover of hip-hop music and superhero comic books from a young age, Ed Piskor has combined his two passions to create a remarkable reading experience ... Hip Hop Family Tree imagines real-world events through the filter of 1980s Marvel Comics, bringing hip-hop visionaries to the page in a style that exaggerates their energy and style to capture the intensity of the music without having the beats.” (The A.V. Club)

Gripping.” (NPR)

“Being in an Ed Piskor comic is cool enough to freeze hot water.” (Fab Five Freddy)

Ed Piskor is the sh#t!!” (De La Soul)

“Extraordinary effort. Even if you are not a hip-hop fan, you need to read this.” (Jatin Varma - The Economic Times)

“These are dookie-gold-chain d-o-p-e.” (Darcy MacDonald - CultMTL)

“A superhero-riffing, world-building, toe-tapping, beat-hitting story of a whole lot of people, some brilliant, some lucky, some crazy, and some all of the above.” (Alex di Campi - 12th Dimension)

“Even if you are not a fan of hip hop or rap per se, one cannot deny its pervasive influence on the world at large. If nothing else, this first volume, covering the years 1975 through 1981, demonstrates the nonstop merging of style and culture that is part and particle of the American experience.” (Gregg Reese - Our Weekly)

“[A] rapid-fire telling of the early days of rap and hip hop culture… There’s a lot to learn even if you think you’ve heard it all.” (Gene Ambaum - Unshelved)
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Product Details

  • Series: Hip Hop Family Tree
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1 edition (December 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606996908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606996904
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.6 x 13.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This thing is huge. Much bigger then I thought! Same size as them old comics that were like the larger ones. The pages of the whole thing on the inside feel like an old comic.. I don't know what paper that is, but it's some official old school paper, but durable, not thin. Even the paper has that "vintage" smell to it!!!! I guess if you want a vintage feel, actually use the same material as they used to!!! This is too ill.. I can't believe this.. <3
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By Greg on November 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
Paving the way. An extremely important and confident work. Excels in every aspect down to the finest detail from concept to execution. Accomplished cartooning, obscure and informative for even those most well versed on the subject. Extremely high standard of production overall, kudos to Piskor and FB. I eagerly await all further volumes and heartily recommend Piskor's work to everyone.
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Format: Paperback
In the world of comics right now, the most interesting stuff is nonfiction. And the art is way ahead of the writing. This book is no exception. It looks really cool—huge format and the color is muted on natural pages, like old-school comics—and the subject matter is naturally intriguing. But the writing . . . it's such a barrage of names and <i>this happened, then this happened, then this happened</i> that it's hard to keep track of any of it, much less to know why it's important. The most interesting moments come when the pace slows enough to allow a story to develop, or when the author up some insightful commentary. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen a lot, so the book often feels more like an illustrated timeline than the story of hip-hop's birth and rise. I can't help but think that the book would be better if it tackled less, and developed it all more deeply (They had already planned a multi-volume approach, so why not make more volumes?).

Maybe that's just me, though, trying to impose narrative on something that doesn't have narrative intentions. Maybe the intent is to pepper the reader with factfactfactfact, but if that's the case, then it feels like a missed opportunity to delve into the story-rich history of hip-hop.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The comic book format allows Piskor to nail the narrative rather than just string together interviews and old video clips: no documentary could do as good a job as this. But the graphic novel format also allows him to nail the look and personality of the era like a prose book couldn't. A great achievement. I didn't want it to end. Except he has future volumes coming, which is even better. Also great production values.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a perfect gift to yourself or anyone else who is a fan and can appreciate (re)learning the history of Hip Hop. The level of detail is just right for a comic and it stays interesting and informative from the beginning to the end. I personally enjoyed readying it from the beginning to the end. It left me wanting to read more. I look forward to the next one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great comic book that teaches Hip Hop origin and history in a light fare that stays true to the genre. Illustrations are great and if you are a true hip hop head you will be enlightened to how things came to be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is it!
History/Herstory & Ourstory of hip hop culture's early first steps to become a universal culture. And it's in visual form that you can hold! Brilliant! Must have for anyone who calls themselves "hip hop"!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really incredible, i've savored every page, a great history, great storytelling, fantastic art. I learned a ton.
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