The Rap Yearbook – Shea Serrano

I absolutely LOVE this book. This book was the best of both worlds for me, as you all already know I’ve really gotten back to rekindling my love for books and two it’s a book about rap and hip-hop. It doesn’t get any better than that for me.

The premise behind this book is that it will cover one rap song starting from the year 1979 ending with 2014. The yearbook covers one song that’s deemed as the most important song, which didn’t necessarily mean the best because as the book states the best song doesn’t equate to the most important. The author, Shea, uses the example of Kanye West’s song Jesus Walks being the best song of 2004 but not the most important because it didn’t really accomplish anything outside of its own success.

The criteria for each song was simple in what kind of impact the song had on rap or on the surroundings of rap. I think the author hit it spot on for a majority of the years covered but of course there were some songs that I didn’t think would actually be considered the most important, i.e. Lifestyle by Rich Homie Quan for 2014, but considering we’re now in the era of trap music I have to reluctantly agree a point was made. Even with a song being selected for a particular year, I love that Shea included a rebuttal section where other people listed an alternative song. So for example, Still Tippin by Mike Jones ft. Slim Thug & Paul Wall was considered the most important song of 2004 because it put Houston on the rap radar and changed the rap scene. The rebuttal song for 2004 was Knuck If You Buck by Crime Mobb arguing the longevity of the song as well as the platform it created for female rapper, where they owned the track alongside the male rappers. Now I would interject my own thoughts because I feel like Eve and Foxy Brown were able to hold their weight rapping alongside men, but these are the first down south female rappers to do it.

Overall, anyone who’s a hip-hop/rap fan should check out this book. I’m looking for more books like this so if anyone has any recommendations let me know.


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