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If asked to list the greatest innovators of modern American poetry, few of us would think to include Jay-Z or Eminem in their number. And yet hip hop is the source of some of the most exciting developments in verse today. The media uproar in response to its controversial lyrical content has obscured hip hop's revolution of poetic craft and experience: Only in rap music can the beat of a song render poetic meter audible, allowing an MC's wordplay to move a club-full of eager listeners.
Examining rap history's most memorable lyricists and their inimitable techniques, literary scholar Adam Bradley argues that we must understand rap as poetry or miss the vanguard of poetry today. Book of Rhymes explores America's least understood poets, unpacking their surprisingly complex craft, and according rap poetry the respect it deserves.
About the Author
Adam Bradley is a professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder where he directs the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture. The author or editor of six books, Bradley has contributed to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, among others. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
"Adam Bradley's Book of Rhymes is a marvelous exploration into the genius of rap and the cultural gravity of hip hop. His analysis is subtle, sophisticated, and soulful!"—Cornel West
"I [am] fascinated by what I would call the emergent 'artcademic' perspective [Bradley] was describing. Here was someone who grew up with the music and had gone on to study it in a social context as well as 'getting down to it' on the level of language."—Chuck D
'Bradley delivers the intellectual dynamite with this astonishingly researched, passionately argued glove-across-the-face challenge to traditional hip hop scholarship. Superb on every level, a revelation and a joy to read."—Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao
So many books have been written about hip hop's history--that time and that magic--but if you don't get it from reading Book of Rhymes, then you're just not going to get it."—Schoolly D
Where some hear noise, Adam Bradley hears the past and future of poetics. With taste, precision, and style, Book of Rhymes explains the art of rap in ways as bold, lyrical, and imaginative as the art form itself. Heads and theorists will find much to love and argue with in this fine work."—Jeff Chang, We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation
"Adam Bradley's Book of Rhymes is the crash course for you."—New York Times Sunday Book Review
"A manifesto.... For Bradley, a couplet by Tupac Shakur [is] a small marvel or 'rhyme (both end and internal), assonance, and alliteration,' given extra propulsion by Shakur's exaggerated stress patterns."—New Yorker
"[Bradley] lays out a nuanced, academically rigorous argument that the best hip hop deserves attention as genuine artistry."—Boston Globe
"[Adam Bradley's] insights are compelling."—Los Angeles Times