Teach me hip-hop
August 22, 2013 2:12 AM   Subscribe

What are the best resources for learning about hip-hop from the very beginning to the present day?

I know nothing about hip-hop and I want to learn more. I'd love to do a sort of chronological music history survey course.

The ideal would be a podcast which starts from the origins or pre-origins, talks about influences and trends, and moves to the present day, with plenty of forays into international hip-hop.

The next best would be a really great book or blog which I can read and listen to the tracks on Deezer or elsewhere online. An online course would be fine as well.

I've seen The Rub's series of podcasts, but they only go up to 1999, and (I think) don't have any talking: I'd love to be able to contextualise what I'm hearing. At the moment, though, that's my backup.

I'm not a huge fan of music documentaries which have a series of guests lined up to say how awesome a particular track/ artist is, so that would probably be my least preferred option.

I'm in the UK, if that matters (eg if you're recommending something on Hulu, I can't access it).
posted by tavegyl to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I know very little about hip-hop either, but have found Ed Piskor’s Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree comics (posted at boingboing) to be instructive and entertaining.
posted by misteraitch at 2:25 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

You may find the hiphop101 subreddit interesting.
posted by Magnakai at 3:51 AM on August 22, 2013

I think you'd get a lot out ofJeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop.
posted by nerdfish at 4:16 AM on August 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists is an exhaustive book of, er, lists in Hip-Hop that is actually quite illuminating and told in an amusing irreverent style. It's not a "hip-hop history from A-Z", but provides bits and pieces from the start of Hip-Hop that provide a great jumping-off point for further research. Highly recommend it.
posted by sektah at 4:58 AM on August 22, 2013

Perhaps Mr. B could be of service.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:22 AM on August 22, 2013

The Rub's History of Hip Hop mix series. 31 mixes, each around a specific year.

In Ego Trip's Book of Rap lists, there are lists for "Ego Trip's Greatest Hip Hop Singles". They have since been compiled and shared as a torrent, but you can find that on your own.
posted by stachemaster at 6:28 AM on August 22, 2013

These are all good suggestions. Jeff Chang's book is great.

I got a lot out of re-reading Davey D's Hip Hop 101 recently.
posted by elmer benson at 7:51 AM on August 22, 2013

KRS-1 went over this in good detail at Fresno State. I posted it on the blue.
posted by cashman at 8:19 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip Hop DJ, by Mark Katz (full disclosure: he's a friend) seems like it would hit many of the things you're looking for. It takes a chronological approach to the development of hip hop, from the perspective of the DJ (the performative DJ, making the music, not the radio DJ). The book has a companion website with music tracks and images, which is free if you've purchased the book. The writing is really accessible and engaging--you can read a sample using the "look inside" feature of the Amazon link.
posted by msbubbaclees at 9:03 AM on August 22, 2013

I love Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson's Mo Meta Blues. It's not a terribly long book, but he goes through some of the evolution of mainstream hip-hop, from his point of view, as a kid who lived it to a guy who makes his money doing it (and in contrast, it features The Roots long-time manager, Richard Nichols, providing his review of hip-hop from a different, older perspective). Ahmir clearly loves music, and the format of the book is really interesting, so it's great fun all-around.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd read There's a god on the mic. I disagree with some of his rankings but it will expose you to a lot of the hip hop legends and what made them great. I'd also study up on the Nation of Gods and Earths. They had a huge influence on east coast hip hop and because without some knowledge of Supreme Mathematics and Alphabets things like Wu-Tang are pretty much indecipherable.
posted by milarepa at 11:29 AM on August 22, 2013

milarepa: I'd also study up on the Nation of Gods and Earths

Here's something to get you started (warning: possible NSFW images at the bottom of the page). There's also an NPR article on God, the Black Man and the Five Percenters that has more history and details of the related beliefs.

stachemaster: In Ego Trip's Book of Rap lists, there are lists for "Ego Trip's Greatest Hip Hop Singles".

They seem to be listed here, spanning from 1979 to 1998.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2013

« Older Dying from knife wounds, but only after several...   |   Name that book! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.