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Seven of the Best Hip Hop Memoirs

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Hip Hop's lyrical dominance of the music industry is no secret, and the people who make it are modern-day poets. So I put together this list of the best memoirs by some of the genre's most famous artists. 

Raising Kanye

As the mother of hip-hop superstar Kanye West, Donda West has watched her son grow from a brilliant baby boy with all the intimations of fame and fortune to one of the hottest rappers on the music scene. And she has every right to be proud: she raised her son with strong moral values, teaching him right from wrong and helping him become the man he is today. In Raising Kanye, Donda not only pays homage to her famous son but reflects on all the things she learned about being his mother along the way. Featuring never-before-seen photos and compelling personal anecdotes, Donda's powerful and inspiring memoir reveals everything from the difficulties she faced as a single mother in the African-American community to her later experiences as Kanye's manager as he rose to superstardom. Speaking frankly about her son's reputation as a "Mama's Boy," and his memorable public outbursts about gay rights and President George W. Bush, Donda supports her son without exception, and here she shares the invaluable wisdom she has taken away from each experience -- passion, tolerance, patience, and above all, always telling the truth. Ultimately, she not only expresses what her famously talented son has meant to her but what he has meant to music and an entire generation.

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Mo' Meta Blues

MO' META BLUES is a punch-drunk-on-culture memoir in which Ahmir tells his own story while tackling the greats, the lates, the fakes, the headliners, and the almost-weres of music, as well as pivotal moments in black art and culture. As one of our most recognizable cultural chameleons, Ahmir writes his story in his inimitable, passionate, stream-of-consciousness style. His book will reveal his own formative experiences, such as growing up in 1970s North Philly with 1950s doo-wop singers as parents, finding his way though music, and ultimately founding and rising up with The Roots, as well as some random musings about his run-ins with celebrities and playing with his idols. MO' META BLUES further distinguishes itself as utterly unique by constantly questioning its own form and quality, thereby getting deeper and deeper into the truth and heart of Ahmir's life (hence the 'Meta' of the title). Ahmir will also end each chapter with reviews of his favorite records from that chapter's time period. This book is a psychedelic amalgam of self-examination, music, pop culture, black culture, and is absolutely one-of-a-kind.

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The Rose that Grew from Concrete

A stunning collection of poems from one of the most revered rap artists in the world, Tupac Shakur, now the subject of the major motion picture, All Eyez On Me. His talent was unbounded, a raw force that commanded attention and respect.His death was tragic - a violent homage to the power of his voice. His legacy is indomitable - remaining vibrant and alive. Here now, are Tupac Shukar's most honest and intimate thoughts conveyed through the pure art of poetry - a mirror into his enigmatic life and its many contradictions. Written in his own hand at the age of nineteen, they embrace his spirit, his energy and his ultimate message of hope. These poems, which Tupac wrote from the heart, will encourage people to take the first steps necessary to see his literary importance, as well as have us acknowledge the life struggles of black men. There is no better way to get inside the mind of an artist than to examine his artistic expressions: sharing his sensitivity, insight, revolutionary mind, fears, passions, and sense of humour, Tupac's stature and recognition as a rapper is clear and unequivocal. THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE now also confirms his place amongst the best writers and poets of his generation.

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Writer and reader born and bred in London. I enjoy putting together reading lists to help others find books they might enjoy. Interested in a whole bunch of subjects, from multiculturalism to ... Show More

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