SAY IT LOUD by K. Maurice Jones


The Story of Rap Music
Age Range: 10 & up
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 A thorough and coherent account of ``the most important popular music to emerge in America during the 1980s and 1990s.'' Jones does a fine job of tracing rap's antecedents from its roots in the West African griot tradition through the ``race music'' of the early 20th century, the preaching and verbal street games that gave rap its structure and vocabulary, and the African-American poets--Muhammad Ali to Nikki Giovanni--who gave it a popular, articulate voice; he shows how its Caribbean and American threads were woven into a distinct musical genre in the South Bronx and went on to become a worldwide movement. The author drops plenty of names but saves his narrative from monotony with qualities that make each performer unique, and by quoting lyrics at gratifying length. He also discusses (among other topics) the legal wrangles over sampling, rappers who have gone on to film careers, and the ``return'' of rap to Africa. Though he writes dismissively of white rappers (not mentioning Snow at all) and has little to say about the antisocial behavior associated with gangster rap, Jones brilliantly captures rap's great variety and appeal. Readable, authoritative, illuminating. Notes; glossary of slang; selected discography (current through late 1993); bibliography; index. Color photo section not seen. (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-56294-386-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Millbrook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994