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The Anthology of Rap Paperback – September 13, 2011

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The Anthology of Rap + Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300141912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300141917
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'For the reader who's really interested in modern poetics a profitable week or three could be spent sitting with The Anthology of Rap.' (Will Self, The Times) '... groundbreaking... it makes the history, development and variety of the genre plain to see in vivid detail.' (Bernadine Evaristo, The Independent) 'Bradley and Dubois succeed in lucidly explaining how societal shifts have been reflected in rap lyrics... This book is a fitting tribute to a genre not far short of its fortieth anniversary and which was once dismissed as a passing fad.' (Geoff St Louis, Time Out)"

More About the Author

Adam Bradley is a scholar of African American literature, a writer on black popular culture, and a New York Times best-selling author. His commentary has appeared on PBS, NPR, and C-SPAN as well as in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Adam is the author or editor of several books, including Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, The Anthology of Rap, Ralph Ellison's Three Days Before the Shooting. . ., and Ralph Ellison in Progress. Most recently, he collaborated with the rapper and actor Common on Common's memoir, the national best-seller One Day It'll All Make Sense.

Presently Adam is at work on several projects, including a book exploring the poetics of popular song. What unites Adam's work is his belief that the most powerful cultural expressions are equally the product of tradition and innovation. This vernacular process of fusing the inherited or even the imposed with the imagined helps explain the beauty we find in everything from a classical symphony to a gutbucket blues, from an epic poem to a rap freestyle.

Adam's work has garnered significant attention from scholars, critics, and readers alike. The New England Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival, and the Book of the Year Awards all honored The Anthology of Rap as one of the best anthologies of 2010. Both New York magazine and the Village Voice named it a Best Book of the Year. Three Days Before the Shooting. . . was named a Book to Watch For by Oprah's O Magazine, a Best Book of 2010 by The Root, and one of the year's best works of outsider fiction by NPR.

Adam was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and was home‐schooled by his grandparents until high school. He earned his BA at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he began working on Ralph Ellison's papers as a nineteen-year-old assistant to Ellison's literary executor, John Callahan. Adam earned his Ph. D. in English from Harvard University, studying with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West. He is currently an associate professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he teaches courses in African American literature and culture. He lives in Boulder with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By CADJewellerySkills on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm shocked at how many people have ganged up against this book, far beyond any realistic or even rational criticism. I'm guessing the book review in Slate magazine started a particularly nasty argument in the Fray which has since spilled over onto Amazon. I can only guess a large enough portion of people who read that review and participated in that flame war didn't let off enough steam, so they came over to Amazon to do a "hatchet job" on the book's rating.

Nearly all of the criticisms levelled at this book are accusing it of being "rife with errors". Allow me to put things in a bit more realistic of a perspective: There are 26 well-documented errors out of almost a thousand entries. I don't know about you, but my definition of "rife with errors" requires a little more than that.

But I digress. Let's talk about the book.

Bradley and DuBois have gone to great lengths to frame rap itself in a literary and historical context within American culture. Through hundreds of examples, they have managed to effectively create a chronological history of the evolution of rap as a lyrical medium since the very first rappers started rhyming over disco beats.

It's telling that all of the negative reviews of this book come down to nitpicking over transcription of lyrics. I can only take this as proof that hip hop culture has aged enough to where people can become so emotionally involved over the slightest variation in words. I would argue that this makes the case that much stronger for a need to give rap the thorough historical documentation and academic study it deserves. In that way, I doubt you'll find anywhere a more thorough and insightful book on rap lyrics that this.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By MJ on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I applaud the work of Bradley and DuBois in bringing this anthology to life - it was needed! I'm fascinated by its polarizing nature - people absolutely love it or hate it.

Most of the criticism is focused on accuracy of transcriptions, which the editors address in the anthology. The text is not perfect, nor should we expect it to be if we recognize the breadth of this work. This should not be seen as a final statement of fact, but an evolving window into an under-appreciated culture.

When you move beyond the letter and fully grasp the spirit of the anthology, you see an accessible toolkit for understanding rap. Importantly, it pays homage to many rappers that have faded from consciousness. Indeed, I would say that some of the rappers whose lyrics have been debated over accuracy have benefited greatly. At its core, this anthology is homage. Similarly, those artists that have not been included have been the focus of renewed interest.

I'm grateful for this collection - it's been a wonderful trip down memory lane, giddily recalling when I first heard many of the records.

And for those that didn't grow up with this poetry, I'm happy to see the interest in rap the anthology is generating.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By trotsky on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
RAP is not just for specialists, for the quickdraw pedants of pop culture who are every bit as self-seeking and in the end corrupt as their academic counterparts. RAP is for the mass of Americans trapped in the profound inanities of conventional thinking, middle-class cowardice, and fake feeling brought about by the conditioning of too much liberal or conservative slobber. This book isn't about mistakes of transcription, as minimal as they really are. It's about an art dedicated to breaking barriers of language and thinking. And this book delivers what it should deliver: the goods of a true American art form in a way that all Americans can take in and come to comprehend. Buy this book, read it deeply, break out of your own shell of expectations and limited knowledge. Confront yourself and your cherished ideas about the things you think are sacred. Do it. Let RAP help you. Then ask yourself if the pecksniff critics of exactitude have any real place in the discussion of what is important either in art or life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Willy on September 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's been said before that the lyrics came directly from and this was something I didnt notice, as I havent analyzed most of the lyrics while listening to the music. However, I did notice that there was no mention of many noteworthy artists such as Killah Priest, Hell Razah, or anyone from the DuckDown label. These artists have withstood the test of time and still release new and more importantly, good material. All of these MCs I felt deserved a spot above artists who were included such as MIA and Drake. Their bodies of work are much deeper than club hits released in the past 3 years. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to find Jay Electronica in the "lyrics for further study" chapter as he is far underrated and still practically unknown. I like the idea of the book, but like its already been said, there need to be revisions. Peace!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Black on December 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to prep for a Rap as Poetry course at Wayne State. It's invaluable, and lets folks trace various hooks and lines throughout rap's short and lively history. Indispensable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas A Evans on December 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is no easy task to edit and transcribe volumes of rap music that spans centuries and tighten it into one book. If you think so, create your own book.

This book is very comprehensive and it's about time that someone put what we all know into print for reference.

That said, I bought this for a Christmas gift and it was well received. Mistakes or not this book is perfect to add to your collection. The price was inexpensive compared to other books. The hardcover is large, heavy, and has a beautiful cover.
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