I did my dissertation on the growth of HipHop culture in North America, I stupidly left it until as late as possible to work on it so it ended up being a pretty simplistic summation of the culture. I luckily did OK due to being a fan of rap music for well over 10 years at that point, and interested in the culture as a whole for about half that time which meant that I had for a long while been reading the odd HipHop focused book. This hasn’t stopped so I thought I would recommend a couple which I’ve read recently, personally I think knowing the history, what goes on behind the scenes, and getting industry head’s views on the culture can really enhance your enjoyment of the music. Remember, the 5th element of Hiphop is Knowledge.

J-Zone – Root For The Villain

I have to admit I’ve never heard any of J-Zone’s music, but Root For The Villain was getting a lot of praise across the HipHop spectrum; journalists, rappers, producers, critics, and fans alike seemed to love it so I thought it would be worth grabbing a copy from Amazon. I wasn’t disappointed, J-Zone’s tale of coming up and kind of accidentally finding early success as a rapper is very amusing and there are certainly lessons to be learned from it, he went from touring Europe with his music to selling gym memberships and eventually becoming a teacher (not a bad job to end up in really). J-Zone also shares his wisdom on a variety of other subjects in the last few chapters of the book and they had me nodding my head in agreement, especially the one titled “Are men the new women (what the fuck)?”.

Prodigy – My Infamous Life

Im halfway through this right now and its phenomenal, if you’re a fan of Mobb Deep or 90s New York rap then you can’t really afford to miss out on reading it. Mobb Deep were truly living the life they were rapping about, drug dealing, shootings, beatings, prostitution, murders, it all happened in Queensbridge, and a lot more. I’d recommend this above the J-Zone book simply because you’re more likely to feel a connection with it as you’ll recognise many of the names, albums, and events mentioned.

I have a few more HipHop books in my book pile so Ill come back with the recommends when Ive read them.