Published Mar 28, 2009Is hip-hop dead? Is it even an art form? Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Adam Bradley's Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop is that the validity and artistic complexity of hip-hop lyricism is assumed. Bradley, a Harvard-educated college professor, through analysis of qualities such as rhyme, rhythm, wordplay and storytelling, makes a compelling case for rap as poetry. It's hardly the first book to do so, but Bradley's engagingly accessible, yet necessarily rigorous prose analyzes the rhymes of MCs from old-school pioneer Grandmaster Caz to virtual newcomer Asher Roth.
Clearly a devotee, Bradley revels in eschewing canonical tradition, pulling liberally from the literary stacks like he's digging in the crates, so when he discusses Young Jeezy's rhyming techniques, it's a natural inclination to reference 15th century chain rhymes. The result is a tangible manifesto for devoted heads, an invaluable guidebook for the curious and a potent rebuttal for those arguing for the simplicity or irrelevance of hip-hop.