Rapper’s way with words is apparent in their lyrics, so it’s only right some have gone the step further and made use of that skill to create books.
Several rappers and music personalities have taken the leap into trying their hand at putting out books. Some attempts obviously pan out better than others but that leap between the fields is understandable. For rappers, turning their hand at taking the seat as an author of something long form just makes sense. The creativity they employ on tracks to weave a narrative is easily translatable to the world of books, even if they don’t choose to go with a creative or fictional writing style. For the personalities around the music, it provides an opportunity to tell stories from the inside but from a perspective sometimes not represented.
But with so many books out there where do you even start right? Well here are 5 I’d suggest to get your musical reading list started, we’re about to quarantine so what better time to finally get some reading done. Of the 5, 3 are more traditional autobiographical works and the other two…well we will get to those. These books delve beyond music touching on all sorts from race, fatherhood, overcoming adversity and more. So even if Rap or Grime isn’t your thing, give these books a chance they have something in there for most people.
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
So we are starting off with one of those non-conventional choices considering this list is focused on musicians work. But to not mention Akala‘s Natives would be criminal. Akala is, of course, somebody known to be very outspoken, well educated, and articulate on a number of things with particular passion towards race and politics. He translated that and his scholarly background into this heavily important tale of Britain and its relation to race. Covering parts of his own life as well as historical and current events, the book is a real mix but based on facts and statistics. For those who want a quality but accessible read on race politics in Britain, Natives is for you.
You can purchase Native’s here.
Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far by Stormzy
We’ve all seen Stormzy‘s come up, but Rise Up is the story of how it happened from the inside. What we see is rarely the full picture and Stormzy chose to shed light on some of what we didn’t see with help from his team at #Merky as well as writer Jude Yawson. Although it is in a way an autobiography of Stormzy and his journey up to around 2018, it’s not just his story. It’s the story of his whole team, and in a wider sense a real world example of how humble beginnings don’t have to mean low aspirations. Rise Up is a book about hope, faith, and aspiring for greatness and that achieving it is possible for all.
You can purchase Rise Up here.
Rapthology: Lessons in Lyrics and Life by Wretch 32
This is only unconventional because we’re so used to artists tyoically putting out autobiographies. In the literary landscape Rapthology is just the next in a long line of books focussing on literary analysis, but with a Rap focus rather than on poetry. Rapthology blends an autobiography, an anthology, and a guide to writing lyrics all from the mind of the countries best wordsmith, Wretch 32. It flows in a conversational manner making it an easy read to pick up. Personally, this is the book on the list I’d most highly recommend for everyone to grab. It’s witty, insightful, and nicely polished with a huge array of topics and lessons between its pages.
You can buy Rapthology here.
Grime Kids: The Inside Story of the Global Grime Takeover by DJ Target
The lone non-artist on the list DJ Target gives an autobiographical account on Grime and its growth in Grime Kids. Centred around him and his experiences that are integrally tied to Grime as a genre, we get the story from somebody who saw it all. He lived it, but he wasn’t one of the artists and he went on to do great things outside of the genre. But as a pioneer in the way he was, he speaks from probably the best position to get an honest and as objective a view of the Grime story we could get. Additionally, he gets to tell his story and the DJ story, making it a read for all music fans.
You can buy Grime Kids here.
Eskiboy by Wiley
Eskiboy and Grime Kids are almost two sides of the same coin. I say almost as Eskiboy is the Wiley story from Wiley‘s perspective, and although Wiley is regarded as Grime’s original his story is not the whole genres. Add to this that Wiley as a character can be, unpredictable shall we say, elements of the narrative should be taken with a pinch of salt. Despite this, it is an excellent book getting into the mind of one of the most important figures for British music. It gets into his psyche as well as pretty much everything you could want to know about him including some of his famous feuds. This is definitely one to pick up, he is the Godfather of Grime after all and his story is very important to the countries musical landscape.
You can buy Eskiboy here.