10 hip-hop books

10 Hip-Hop Books To Celebrate 50 Years Of Hip-Hop Culture

We’re still shouting happy birthday to hip-hop! Having turned 50 on Aug. 11, hip-hop culture has changed the lives of many people since its birth. The evolution of hip-hop has embodied art, DJ’ing, dance, fashion, hair, jewelry, language, lyricism, music and guess what else—literature ..books.

BLACK ENTERPRISE salutes hip-hop books for penetrating the literary space. Here are 10 books from hip-hop artists that tell their story and share their perspective not heard through music. 


1.) From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon a Time in Southside Queens


This memoir, written by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson with Kris Ex, is a tale of how 50 Cent navigated his difficult childhood as a youth: dealing with the murder of his mother; hustling in the streets to survive; being shot nine times and achieving the American dream. 



2.) The Wu-Tang Manual 

The Wu-Tang Manual by Robert Diggs, otherwise known as RZA, and Chris Norris. The Wu-Tang Manual is made up of 4 books that break down all things Wu-Tang Clan—from information about the nine original members, Wu-Slang, and the philosophies and personalities that make the Wu-Tang Clan what it is. If you’re heavy into Wu culture, this book is for you.  


3.) Sweat The Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius

Rakim Allah’s book is half a memoir and the other half is a writing guide. In this book he details who and what influenced him in his youth (jazz and John Coltrane) while highlighting the reason he is hailed as the god MC. 


4.) Hurricanes

Rick Ross and Neil Martinez-Belkin wrote this memoir about Ross’ upbringing in South Beach Miami during the War On Drugs era, which covers his time as a high school football player, dope boy hustler, and correctional officer. Ross chronicles the making of his debut hit song “Hustlin’” to having a large deal with Def Jam records. This read will give you insight to Rick Ross’ experiences and inspirations


5.) Decoded

Decoded, written by rap icon and business mogul Shawn Corey Carter (widely known as Jay-Z,) is a one of a kind memoir that shows the worlds Jay-Z has maneuvered. Beyoncé’s other half tells his story while highlighting the hip-hop art form and culture by deconstructing his lyrics and giving readers a deeper dive into his journey as a artist. 



6.) E. A. R. L. The Autobiography of DMX  

The Autobiography of DMX, by the late Earl Simmons and Smoky D. Fontaine, shares X’s upbringing in the streets of Yonkers, New York. Readers learn how DMX overcame struggles involving neglect, physical abuse, drug abuse and jail time. The book reveals DMX’s ability to never give up on his dreams, finding his passion for hip-hop and releasing a no. 1 album four times in a row. X’s story literally shows that if you slip and fall you can still get up.



7.) Cross The Tracks

Torrence Hatch Jr., the controversial rapper known as Boosie Badazz, gives readers the details of growing up in Baton Rouge and being a local star at the age of 14, and becoming one of the most prominent rappers in the South. Boosie talks about survival, having a second chance at life, and beating the odds after facing death row and ultimately gaining freedom.


8.) Vibrate Higher

Vibrate Higher is a rap tale written by Talib Kweli that shares his upbringing in Brooklyn, New York. Kweli writes about what hip-hop has done for his life and how the culture impacts life socially, politically, and creatively.  


9.) The Autobiography of Gucci Mane

The Autobiography of Gucci Man was written with the help of Neil Martinez-Belkin. Gucci Mane began writing this story while locked in federal prison. Gucci highlights the ups and downs of his life and career, and leans into growing up in poverty, his father’s abandonment, jail time, and how all these shaped him. He shares a bit about the infamous ice cream tattoo and how his career has evolved over time. 



10.) Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman

Dana Owens, our beloved Queen Latifah, wrote an autobiography that is an inspiration to women. Queen Latifah details growing up in Newark, New Jersey, and the difficult decisions she had to make dealing with sex, drugs, depression. The award-winning hip-hop artist shares what it means to be confident and independent, and what life was like being the first female solo rap artist to get a major record deal at 19-years-old. 


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