“You love to hear the story again and again…” – MC Shan
Hip-Hop music has inspired a whole generation (or more) of people all around the world. Since its birth in New York in the 1970s the culture has grown into an international phenomenon. The music has created billions of dollars in sales, artists have crossed over into the mainstream, and everything from art to fashion and business to politics has been touched by hip-hop.
One person who was intimately inspired by hip-hop is Britain’s DJ Semtex, who found the culture and ethos of hip-hop helped him overcome his own difficulties (which are covered at the start of this fine book).
A quick look through the pages will have memories flooding back as well-known pictures join rare and unpublished photographs of stars ranging from pioneers like Grandmaster Flash through to icons like The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac and onto today’s names like Young Thug and Nicki Minaj. The pictures alone are worth the price of entry for this weighty coffee table book, however, Semtex also does a great job of writing about hip-hop too.
Starting from the earliest days of the scene in the Bronx, Semtex offers his history of hip-hop in a well-written and engaging style, which takes in matter such as gender representation and the question of the ‘white rapper’ in hip-hop.
While not a U.S. native himself, Semtex has built up solid contacts to bring a host of exclusive interviews with hip-hop’s biggest names alongside his own recollections. With input from names like Chuck D, Drake, Melle Mel, KRS One, Nas, Pete Rock, Nicki Minaj, Ice Cube, and Lil Wayne, among others, there is plenty of first-hand experience on offer.
That said, it is Semtex’s ‘outsider’s view’ that is the real beauty of his writing as he demonstrates a real love and reverence for the culture that arguably saved his life (or at least offered direction and inspiration).
Running at over 400 pages this heavy-duty book is the perfect Christmas gift for any hip-hop loving friends or family – or even just something for yourself (‘cause you know if you want something really good you have to buy it for yourself!).
If you love hip-hop, you’ll love this – whatever era you come from!
Photo Credit: Thames & Hudson Books