Friday, April 17, 2015

How To Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee by Paul Edwards

Where to write?  Use paper or go digital… or keep it all in your head?  Make your own beats or collaborate with a producer?  How to plan your flow in connection with the beat and write it out so you can remember?  These are just some of the essential questions a novice rapper may contemplate and Paul Edwards has solicited advice from over 100 artists-- some of them as well-known as Q-Tip,, and Shock G, some lesser known, and organized their perspectives and insights into four parts: content, flow, writing and delivery.  Within these four parts, topics are addressed by subject matter like content forms (chapter two in part one, including braggadocio, story, abstract and humorous) and rhyme (chapter five in part two, addressing perfect rhyme, assonance, alliteration and consonance, compound rhymes, and coming up with rhymes).  The table of contents is specific and makes subtopics easy to locate.  There is plenty here to keep an interested reader busy and nothing to intimidate besides length--over 300 pages.  While the artists themselves are not always the most articulate, Edwards presents them in their own vernacular.  Teachers might not be happy to read four-letter words in regular use, but younger readers will appreciate the uncensored language.  Backmatter includes an annotated list of interviewees and a helpful index. Recommended for teen patrons who already write or say they would like to write rhymes.  Circulates frequently with Mitchell’s Hip Hop Rhyming Dictionary. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Edwards, Paul.  How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2009

Bill Batterman expounds on how to use this book to teach public speaking and debate skills on his blog, The 3nr, here.  The post includes an excellent short list of links to lyrics he deems useful to the would-be high school debater.

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