Hip hop icons and rap innovators, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur continue to influence, define, and change the genre years after their deaths. Despite the controversies surrounding the murders of Tupac and Biggie, ultimately it’s their art that remains their biggest legacy. The music of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac has inspired the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. The legacies of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace — a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. — live on.
So does their rivalry, one of the greatest in music history. In 2pac vs. Biggie, hip hop experts Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey take an entirely new approach to investigation of that rivalry. Rather than focus on the countless conspiracy theories, they study the artist as artists, dissecting the lyrics of their hits (“California Love,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Changes” for 2pac, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa” for Biggie) and lesser-known works, performance and rhythmic styles, aesthetic appearances and what those meant, rises to power, and of course, their lives after death. The feud between 2pac and Biggie is broken down and looked at from all new angles, bringing to light little-known and surprising sides to each rapper’s persona and inner world.
Illustrated throughout with photographs, memorabilia, and artwork inspired by Tupac and Biggie, and with insert “versus” pages dissecting topics such as each artist’s presence in movies, critical reception, and literary influences, this book is a must-have for all rap and hip hop fans.
“You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest mother****ers on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.” –Robert Christgau
Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth. Mo’ Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of hip hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D’Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to…you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!?
But Mo’ Meta Blues isn’t just a memoir. It’s a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It’s a book that questions what a book like Mo’ Meta Blues really is. It’s the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.
It’s a rare gift that gives as well as takes.
It’s a record that keeps going around and around.
Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.
Spiegel & Grau
All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America
John McWhorter – Author
Available June 2008
Hip-hop is often extolled as an urgent “political” message to mainstream America about the realities of life in black communities. But is there really any meaningful connection between hip-hop and politics? Could there actually be a hip-hop revolution?
In All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America, bestselling author John McWhorter argues that the vast majority of hip-hop music—despite claims to the contrary—has nothing real or significant to offer black America in terms of political activism that can make a meaningful difference.
In this measured, impassioned work, McWhorter maintains that hip-hop, while infectious and finely-crafted music, is overly inflated with a sense of social and political importance. He argues that activism and acting up aren’t the same thing, that hip-hop politics often amount to an upturned middle finger—which is different from really working on how to help people. “A hundred years from now, what will interest people about us today is how we solved our problems, not how eloquently we complained about what caused them,” writes McWhorter.
All About the Beat is not about putting hip-hop down for the violence and misogyny it extols. Instead, McWhorter calls for a new politics for black America, one not based on the false hope that a form of music—no matter how good or inspiring— can lead blacks to advancement.