cover image The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop

Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Frank Morrison. Little Bee, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0411-9

With short, rhyming lines and dramatic portraits of performers, the creative team behind How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace offers a dynamic introduction to hip-hop. “I was not raised on rap, but I was rooted in the African American musical- and spoken-word traditions that preceded it,” Weatherford writes in her author’s note. She begins the book’s text by contextualizing the movement, honoring some of the poets (Langston Hughes) and musicians (James Brown) whose work helped to influence hip-hop’s birth. Celebrating all four “pillars” of hip-hop artistry—“graffiti, break dancing, rapping/MCing, and DJing/scratching/turntablism”—the pages pair succinct, informative rhymes with Morrison’s vibrant paintings of street artists, b-boys, and DJs along with their gear: spray paint, giant boom boxes and turntables, “sheets of cardboard for a stage.” Female MCs dominate two spreads, one an unforgettable portrait of Queen Latifah. With a closing spread that emphasizes hip-hop’s international reach as a “language that’s spoken the whole world ’round,” and a glossary of terms aimed at a digital generation (vinyl records are defined), this artful introduction to one of the most influential cultural movements of the 20th century pulses with the energy and rhythm of its subject. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. ([em]Jan.) [/em]