5 Books You Should Read About Hip-Hop (Ward)

by Treehouse Editors

Caleb Andrew Ward

When you’re white, wear tight jeans, and quote Kafka, you seriously lack street cred. But somehow I have become a bit of an old school hip-hop enthusiast. I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland in the ’90s, which was a hub for great rappers at the time—DJ K-Swift, Blaqstarr, and Labtekwon to name a few—and my love of hip-hop grew from there. For anyone searching for their literary hip-hop fix, here’s a little list to get you started.

  1. The Tao of Wu by The RZA. The RZA shares his insights into philosophy and the path towards enlightenment. He’s no Lao-Tzu, but the Brooklyn-native is able to spin Asian religion with street knowledge with few flaws. Check this out for the RZA’s “Pillars of Wisdom.”
  2. Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem by Anthony Bozza. On assignment for his first cover story, Anthony Bozza meets a young and irate Eminem in his days of early MTV stardom in 1999. Chaos ensues.
  3. Ruminations by Kris Parker (KRS-One). With Ruminations KRS-One aims his intellect at metaphysical philosophy, African-American history, and social commentaries on government and the black community to form a well-rounded meditation on what it is to be a hip-hop connoisseur.
  4. Decoded by Jay-Z. With Decoded Jay-Z dives into his lyrics, inspirations, and instances of growing up in the projects of Brooklyn. The artwork alone, by Rodrigo Corral, is reason to check this book out.
  5. It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post-Hip-Hop Generation by M. K. Asante Jr. Asante Jr. is more than a nonfiction writer, but a poet, documentary filmmaker, and hip-hop historian. In It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop we get a full view of the underground hip-hop world that has been cultivated for years and continues to grow below the corporate sell-outs ruling the charts.

Caleb Andrew Ward lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, is a reader for Treehouse Magazine, Prose Editor for Atlantis Creative Magazine, and has been published here and here.