Whether you’re an actual fan of rap or just trying to sound hip while talking music with your kids (hey, we all do it), The Rap Year Book just might offer the easiest way to get up to speed on some of the most important songs and moments in the genre. A history of rap told through its most important recordings, it offers a unique glimpse to a culture that has slowly, but steadily, taken over.
Authored by Shea Serrano, the book chronicles the most important rap song of every year, starting from the time Rapper’s Delight brought the genre to mainstream attention back in 1979 until now. From that groundbreaking hit to 1985’s oft-sampled “La Di Da Di” to 1994’s “Juicy” to 2014’s “Lifestyle” from Rich Gang, it covers a wide array of songs that the author considers particularly salient to both the rap scene and the culture around it.
Whether you agree with the author’s song choices, The Rap Year Book should offer seriously interesting reading, since it doesn’t merely list songs in a clinical way. Instead, Serrano delves into what makes each ditty particularly significant, using the songs to examine the greater culture at large. Not only that, they throw in plenty of fun infographics (e.g. the amount of swear words on Straight Outta Compton in chart form), lyric maps, short essays, and various footnotes across the large-format paperback’s 240 pages, making for a read that’s both informative and entertaining, with plenty of hilarious moments to keep things light.
Available now, The Rap Year Book is priced at $18.95.