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Books

Top 5 books for hip hop fans

MC, theatre maker and beatboxer Testament explores some of literature’s best meditations on the genre

The Talented Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation by Jeff Chang

Snapshots of hip-hop from its authentic beginnings among those who made a movement out of the little they had, to hip-hop’s co-option by commercialism. Ends prophetically, calling for figures like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole years before they blew up.

Where You’re At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip Hop Planet by Patrick Neate

Exceptional writer Neate sees how hip-hop has assimilated into cultures around the world. The first book on hip-hop I read that captures the feeling of being inside the scene.

The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop, and Why It Mattersby Tricia Rose

Legendary British rapper Ty (thanks bro!) put me onto this book about how hip-hop relates to the media, race relations amongst many other things. Complex and controversial, it looks for positive ways forward.

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When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip Hop Feminist by Joan Morgan

This insight into the mind of a (really cool) black woman was massively helpful
when I was working on my one-man show WOKE. Morgan deals with the tensions of being a feminist hip-hop fan.

Wiggaz With Attitude: My Life as a Failed White Rapperby Andrew Emery

A Yorkshire rap saga. Hilarious and nostalgic true story of a local rap wannabe who
ends up touching hip-hop greatness. It captures Leeds well, including peeps I’ve ended up knowing myself. (Also has very funny footnotes).

Testament is a judge for the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2019 with First Story and Cambridge University. The shortlist is announced on September 22 and the winner will be named on October 1

Image: Humans of Leeds

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