"One Day It'll All Make Sense": Hip-Hop and Rap Resources for Music Librarians
Leach, Andrew, Notes
Despite being an object of derision within academia for many years, the study of hip-hop culture and rap music ahs now largely gained respectability in the academy, and is considerably less marginalized than it was only a decade ago. Scholars working in a number of disciplines are increasingly recognizing hip-hop culture and rap music as subjects worthy of attention. Consequently, a great deal of scholarly study and writing on hip-hop and rap is being carried out, drawing from fields including African American studies, history, linguistics, literature, musicology, sociology, and women's studies. Hip-hop and rap topics are now commonly presented at academic conferences, and are explored in dozens of books published by university presses, and numerous undergraduate courses and graduate seminars devoted to hip-hop and rap are taught in universities throughout the United States. This acceptance has also resulted in the collection of archival hip-hop and rap materials at research institutions such as Harvard University, Indiana University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Smithsonian Institution. As the subjects of hip-hop culture and rap music continue to gain further acceptance among scholars, become areas of study in more university courses, and continue to be the subjects of published literature, many music librarians should anticipate that they will require knowledge of hip-hop and rap resources, and need expertise in collecting these materials for their libraries.
This bibliographical essay provides descriptions of wide array of resources relating to hip-hop culture and rap music, and its final section is devoted to the collecting of hip-hop and rap materials by libraries. While the essay is primarily intended to serve as a guide for music librarians who provide reference service and library instruction, and to those with collection development responsibilities, it may also prove useful to educators, students, and those beginning to conduct research on hip-hop or rap. The essay is not intended as a comprehensive bibliography on hip-hop culture and rap music, but rather, it provides information about materials that may be used as reference sources and as starting points for research in these subject areas. Since music is the primary focus of this essay, many worthwhile resources devoted specifically to non-music elements of hip-hop, such as break dancing and graffiti, are not covered here. Unless otherwise noted, the citations within the essay refer to the most recent editions of publications, and items that are out of print at the time of this writing are so indicated. For the reader's convenience, all resources described are listed, with full bibliographic citations, in an appendix following the essay, with an asterisk (*) denoting items that are particularly recommended. (1)
"HIP-HOP" AND "RAP": DEFINITIONS AND OVERVIEWS
Many people do not have a clear understanding of the meanings of "hip-hop" and "rap," and there is some disagreement about whether the terms are interchangeable. This is true even among hip-hop's most knowledgeable writers, performers, and listeners. The most commonly held view, however, is that hip-hop is a cultural movement that emerged in the South Bronx in New York City during the 1970s, and MCing (or rapping; MC = master of ceremonies, also mic controller) is one of its four primary elements. Hip-hop's other three essential elements are generally considered to be graffiti art (or aerosol art), breaking (or break dancing, b-boying), and DJing (or turntablism; DJ = disc jockey), though some maintain that beat-boxing, fashion, and language are also included among hip-hop's elements. Rap music has become by far the most celebrated expression of hip-hop culture, largely as a result of its being the easiest to market to a mass audience.
While the best comprehensive overviews of hip-hop and rap are generally provided by book-length studies (see the titles described below in the sections titled "Literature on Hip-Hop and Rap: A Brief Overview" and "Historical Information"), several sources offer more succinct overviews and definitions. An excellent overview of hip-hop can be found in the introduction to Yvonne Bynoe's Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture. Bynoe begins by discussing hip-hop's primary elements and some of their antecedents, including griots (musician-entertainers) in Africa, toasting and black radio DJs in the United States, and capoeira (a Brazilian dance of African origin that incorporates martial arts movements). The essay then covers hip-hop's history, including discussions of its origins in the Bronx, the relationship between rap music and the media, hip-hop and fashion, and the East Coast/West Coast rap feud during the 1990s. A more concise definition of hip-hop can be found in David Toop's entry "Hip Hop" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and in Grove Music Online. The entry provides a good but brief discussion of the early development of hip-hop culture.
Perhaps the best place to start for someone seeking a very thorough overview of rap music is Dawn M. Norfleet's essay titled "Hip-Hop and Rap" in African American Music; An Introduction. The essay begins with a discussion of the various cultural roots of hip-hop and rap, including verbal traditions in the United States and the Caribbean, Jamaican DJs and sound systems, and precursors of rapping on recordings by 1970s soul singers. This is followed by a detailed historical account of rap music, including informative discussions of DJ techniques such as scratching, mixing, and sampling. The essay covers many of the most important figures in rap music and deals with several significant issues associated with the genre, including misogyny, women in rap, the differences between Old School and New School rap, and the underground hip-hop scene. Unlike most sources on the subject, Norfleet's essay also includes musical analysis with transcriptions, illustrating rhyme schemes and rhythmic elements in the music.
Several other noteworthy essays and encyclopedia entries provide overviews of rap music. One such essay is "The Rap Attack: An Introduction," written by leading hip-hop scholar William Eric Perkins in the anthology for which he served as editor, Droppin' Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Perkins's essay provides an excellent examination of rap music's early history and many of the musical origins of the rap tradition. Tricia Rose's essay "Rap Music," in The Hip Hop Reader, provides another superb scholarly account of rap music's early years while taking into account its connections to culture, identity, gender, and technology. Rose's essay is based on an excerpt from her seminal book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (described in more detail in the section below titled "Literature on Hip-Hop and Rap: A Brief Overview"). David Toop's entry "Rap," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and in Grove Music Online, provides a useful overview of rap music, covering the genre's history from its beginnings to the present day and providing a short bibliography. Rob Bowman's succinct and well written entry "Rap" in The Harvard Dictionary of Music briefly discusses rap music's precursors in African and African American cultures, the use of turntables and samplers, copyright issues, political messages, censorship, and rap's broadening appeal among mainstream music listeners. Finally, the concise entry "Rap" in Bynoe's Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture addresses rap's place within hip-hop culture, its musical antecedents, prior uses of the term "rap" within African American culture, and the music's origins and early history.
There are many bibliographies on hip-hop and rap that can serve as excellent starting points for research, and several of them can also be used by librarians to aid in developing collections of essential hip-hop and rap resources. Among the best is Judy McCoy's book Rap Music in the 1980s: A Reference Guide, an extensive annotated bibliography of articles and reviews relating to rap music during the 1980s. The majority of the sources listed in Rap Music in the 1980s are from mainstream periodicals such as Billboard, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone, and The Village Voice. The book includes a valuable selected and annotated discography (described in more detail in the section below titled "Discographies and Guides to Sound Recordings") and an array of helpful indexes. Emmett Price's resource guide Hip Hop Culture includes sections titled "Selected Print Resources" and "Selected Nonprint Resources," which are thorough, well organized, and up-to-date bibliographies that provide intelligent annotations. The book (described further in the section below titled "Additional Reference Sources") contains several other sections that provide valuable information as well.
A useful appendix titled "Words, Images, and Sounds: A Selected Resource Guide" can be found at the end of Jeff Chang's essential history Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Chronologically arranged to correspond to the chapters of the book (described in further detail in the following section), the list provides many citations for recommended printed works, video materials, and sound recordings.
Robert M. Cleary's classified "Rap Music and Its Political Connections: An Annotated Bibliography" lists numerous works on rap music, including reference sources, historical discussions, cultural critiques, and writings on feminist rap performers. It concludes with a substantial section devoted to controversial rappers. Finally, John Ranck's online bibliography of hip-hop resources titled "Classified Hip-Hop, or I Wanna Blow Up Like Marilyn Monroe's Skirt" is an extensive list of citations for books, dissertations, articles, periodicals, sound recordings, and video materials.(2)
LITERATURE ON HIP-HOP AND RAP: A BRIEF OVERVIEW
The first literature on hip-hop culture and rap music began to appear in the late 1970s as reporters (many of whom were active participants within the culture) began writing about hip-hop and rap in magazine and newspaper articles. Within a few years, some of the first serious writing on the subjects began with the publication of books such as David Toop's Rap Attack: African Jive to New York Hip Hop, and Steven Hager's Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Graffiti. Toop's book, which documented the origins of hip-hop and illustrated rap music's place within the landscape of African American music and culture, was one of the earliest comprehensive treatments of the subject. It is now in its third edition with the updated title Rap Attack 3: African Rap to Global Hip Hop. Hager's book (long out of print at the time of this writing) chronicled hip-hop's emergence and development in a straight-forward writing style, and included numerous photographs.
A decade later, substantial academic work on hip-hop and rap began when studies such as Tricia Rose's book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America were published. Rose's book, which is often regarded as the most important academic study on hip-hop culture, is an influential and frequently cited scholarly examination of the subject. Based on interviews, fieldwork, and the author's own experiences, it explores many of the social, cultural, and political …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: "One Day It'll All Make Sense": Hip-Hop and Rap Resources for Music Librarians. Contributors: Leach, Andrew - Author. Journal title: Notes. Volume: 65. Issue: 1 Publication date: September 2008. Page number: 9+. © 2009 Music Library Association, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.