The 10 Most Important Books for the Hip Hop Community
The 10 Most Important Books for the Hip Hop Community
By Jeff Carroll
(Editor’s Note: Due to the fact that this list is highly debatable, Urban America Newspaper emphasizes that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and of the author’s alone. If you would like to discuss this topic further, visit our message board at www.uannetwork.com)
I have wanted to write this story for a long time. I have always loved reading and discussing books ever since I won a reading contest in the 8th grade. It was a big deal for me because I didn’t read on grade level and I had a reading tutor. Winning that reading contest had a big impact of my life. I have enjoyed reading ever since and being a reader has helped me understand the world and Hip Hop.
When I heard Lil' Kim was reading The DaVinci Code I was happy. The DaVinci Code is a very thought provoking book and is a far better read than these new Urban Novels that have flooded Black bookstores in last few years. I am also a listener of the Star and Bucwild Morning Show, the number #1 Hip Hop Radio Show in New York which is syndicated in 10 cities across the Country. The host of the show, Star, bases the show around his ideology and says one of his ideological influences was the book Anthem by Ayn Rand. On his show books are regularly mentioned and suggested randomly to the Hip Hop Community.
Since, there is so much interest in books now in the Hip Hop community I wanted to separate the important books from the low moral, non-educational, entertainment novels and give the intellectually beneficial, spiritually uplifting books some promo. See, before there was gangster rap and sexually degrading lyrics Hip Hop was positive and saying “positive rap” was as redundant as saying “health food.” Rap was positive in its beginnings just like food was healthy before fast food. I also don’t want to wait until after Hip Hop has totally dominated the medium of books as it did music, fashion and television, to support positive books. So, here is a list of books I feel are vital and crucial to anyone in the Hip Hop Community. Many of them can be found on the Zulu Nation web site. I listed them in an order where Hip Hoppers can better understand their relationship to world history and role they play in its future.
The Black Man of the Nile and His Family (1989)
By Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannon
This book is the first book I would suggest because it is about the world’s first and greatest civilization. Dr. Ben, as he is called by his students, is the father of Egyptology and is the foremost scholar on the subject. I recommend any of his books or speeches because as a descendant of African people his theories are not clouded by jealousy like European and Arab scholars. His books are available on www.menofrespect.com and www.blackclassicbooks.com
Stolen Legacy (1954)
By George GM James
This is the second book because after you have read about the greatness of the people of the Nile Valley Civilization then you need to learn how it was used as a platform to start other civilizations. As the title suggests it highlights of how the Greek Civilization stole everything they had from the people of Kemet. Another book I would suggest on this subject is Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization By Anthony T Browder.
The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933)
By Carter G Woodson
This book is a very thorough analysis of the effect that oppression has had on the Africans who where stripped of their language and culture here in America. It is amazing how a people who created Mathematics, Language and Science were made to believe they had no history and couldn’t even learn these subjects. Written during segregation, Dr. Woodson’s ideas were brilliant and are still relevant today. Other books on this subject are The Shaping of Black America By Lerone Bennett and From MisEducation to Education by Na’ im Akbar.
From Columbus to Castro (1970)
By Eric Williams
Since Hip Hop is a byproduct of African American and both English and Spanish speaking Caribbeans, it is equally important for Hip Hoppers to understand both American and Caribbean experiences. Written by the first President of Trinidad, it not only outlines the genocide of the Caribe Indians but lists the yearly populations of each island. For people who don’t know the magnitude of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade this book will over whelm them. After reading this book and seeing the numbers of people killed, all Caribbeans and African Americans will clearly understand they are the same people. Mr. Williams lists the shipping logs with the part of Africa the prisoners came from and what island they went to.
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1972) By Walter Rodney
This is the best book for understanding how Africa was affected by European occupation. From lies about Africans trading their brothers and sisters to diseased European invaders to understanding the deceptive lies used to deplete this beautiful continent of its resources. Hip Hoppers need to understand what happened because the same tactics are used here in the States - How the land that was once so fertile became so desecrated by the wars these Europeans fought on it; how the European brought diseases like AIDS which was created in European laboratories and released it in strategic areas to depopulate and inflict genocide on Africa’s people. Hip Hoppers will get clues to how Europeans instigated and fueled conflict among the tribal groups exactly like the US Government (with COINTELPRO) did in Los Angeles with the Black Panthers and the CRIPs and the Bloods. To better understand the role Belgians played in the Hutu and Tutsi conflict showed in the movie Hotel Rwanda watch the documentary Bastards of the Party. Finally, Hip Hoppers reading this book will better understand Africa’s condition and poor people in America’s challenges. Other resources on this subject I would recommend is Diary of an Economic Hit Man and the movie Lord of War.
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (2005)
By Jeff Chang
I feel it is a good point to suggest a book on Hip Hop itself. This book is the best book I have read on the History of Hip Hop. There are other books but I like how Jeff put the creation of Hip Hop into the context of world events. This is important for both people who think Hip Hop is negative and the diehard Hip Hop fans who buy everything that comes out. Other books to check out are VIBE: A History of Hip Hop Edited by Alan Light, Hip Hop America by Nelson George and Hip Hop Generation By Bakari Kitwana
Message to the Blackman (1965)By Elijah Muhammad
I put this book here after the history books because it is not a history book. This is a solution book. While I am not a member if the Nation of Islam or a Muslim I feel this book has a complete message. Dr. Martin Luther King’s message was mostly political and didn’t include social solutions. The only African American leader to have a solution as complete as Elijah’s was Marcus Garvey. Yet, Marcus Garvey didn’t put his solution in one book like Elijah. Elijah addresses health, male/female relations and race relations. Even thought you may not agree with everything he suggests it is a damn good place to start.
The Bible, written by various people (“inspired by God”), This anthology’s most commonly used version was last edited by King James 1300AD. The Qur'an/Koran (according to the Muslim world, revealed by Allah) written by Muhammad and put together by a committee appointed during the time of Khalifa Rashed `Uthmaan before 50 AH / 670 CE.
I decided to put these two religious books together because they have a lot in common and have had a similar affect on the Hip Hop Community. Both of these books share teachings from Africans on how humans relate to other humans, animals, the world and the universe. In addition, both of these books have been interpreted in ways that have benefited and harmed poor people and the people of Africa who are the ancestors of the Hip Hop Community. Because Europeans and Arabs have conquered and killed to create converts of these religions the Bible and the Qur'an are probably the two most influential books in the world. It is predicted by many scholars that the conflict between the two faiths will bring a destructive end to human existence. As influential as these books are they are also complex and I suggest reading them with a group or a teacher.
The Isis Papers (1990)
By Dr Frances Cress Welsing
Okay, this book is the product of Dr Welsing’s Cress theory on White Supremacy (Racism). This is one of the best most complete explanations of Racism. Understanding White Supremacy will help Hip Hoppers understand better what motivated many of the events of what’s called the modern world. The poverty and un-maintained environment that Hip Hop was born in was the direct result of White Supremacy. The advice in this book will only help Hip Hoppers live better lives.
Behold a Pale Horse (1991)
By William Cooper and Milton William Cooper
Now, once Hip Hoppers process all of the information in the previous books this book’s information will make more sense. This is one of the most important books on this list because it is an honest evaluation of the motives of European leaders and other controlling entities. While most books on this list are history books or opinions on history, this book is important because its predictions are well respected in the Black community, even thought it was written by two white people.
It wasn’t easy putting this list together because there are so many powerful books out there. I have seen other book lists and they seemed to be random or categorized. I wanted my list to have an objective. The objective of my list is to open people’s minds to the events that have shaped our world and the philosophies behind them. There are many books that are good, but most simple repeat things that others emphasize. So I tried to list the best books representing the particular subjects. I hear people say if you want to hide something from people put it in a book. Well, I believe if you put it in a book someone will find it. Books are a very powerful medium. Even the internet doesn’t make books totally obsolete. There is something about reading a book in your hand that reading it on a screen doesn’t have. When the power goes out or while you are on a train or on vacation, reading a physical book is hot. I look forward to more substantive books to come from the Hip Hop Community. Peace out and be on the look out for my book on relationships entitled Hating the GAME.
Here are a few other books that are important because they thoroughly address certain important issues. Please check these books out and add them to your collection.
How to Eat to Live by Elijah Muhammad
Satan I’m Taking Back My Health by Jawanza Kunjufu
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister SouljahopHop
Getting Unstuck by Conscious
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Mya Angelu
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Hailey
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
PowerNomics by Claud Anderson
The Covenant With Black America by Tavis Smiley
The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews
African American History, A Textbook by Dr Molefi Kete Asante