read this now: The Rap Yearbook

Whether you're a dedicated hip hop head, or have a passing interest in rap, I guarantee you will enjoy this book. The premise is simple (but complicated?) - choose the most important rap song from every year since 1979. What people consider "Most Important" is awfully subjective, though. The author posits that it's a song that changes the route of the genre, introduces a new element to the music, and/or had an impact on society. You're not really meant to agree with the author's choices, in fact, he wants you to disagree and definitely encourages debate.

Shea Serrano's writing style is gut-bustingly funny and this book offers a lot of entertainment value for your dollar. It's also gorgeously illustrated and chock full of infographics like this one. Please notice the axes: Ostentatious vs. Cool and Intimidating vs. Approachable.


A few favorite of my favorite bits:
- Illustration of Drake sitting at a pottery wheel (a la the movie Ghost)


- This description of Suge Knight:
Like if an angry rhino began morphing into a human and then stopped halfway through and so that’s just how he was stuck.


- The “What this song is about” intro to each chapter.
 C.R.E.A.M by Wu-Tang Clan
What this song is about:
Cash, and how it rules things, but also how maybe it doesn’t rule anything that’s really important.


Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A
What this song is about:
It’s about where three guys are coming from and how they feel about things and the crimes that have already committed or will commit if they feel they have adequate reason to do so.

Nuthin but a G Thang by Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg                                                                                                         What this song is about:                                                                                                                                                                How Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the Death Row label were unfadeable, so please don't try to fade them.                           

So, yeah, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this one.