The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop
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The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  908 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In the underground labyrinths of New York City's subway system, beneath the third rail of a long forgotten line, Saul Williams discovered scrolls of aged yellowish-brown paper rolled tightly into a can of spray paint. His quest to decipher this mystical ancient text resulted in a primal understanding of the power hip-hop has to teach us about ourselves and the universe aro...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by MTV Books (first published January 31st 2006)
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Okay, You’re probably wondering what's a white girl from Vermont doing reading this? Oh, and she’s also… French Canadian. (shudder)

I know, I was too. I mean, I really have nothing in common with Saul Williams, I grew up in suburban NH where the ‘hood’ was a mile long strip mall and it was considered dangerous to hit TJ Maxx on a Friday night.

This being said, I was mesmerized. Granted, I had to have whole parts translated to me, but it was beautiful. I want to be a Saul Williams groupie. I want...more
Dec 31, 2012 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of poetry and hip-hop
Another great one by Saul Williams. It offers a social commentary on the importance of hip-hop in the African-American community in particular, and the unfortunate misogynistic turn hip-hop has taken (the main reason I don't listen to it anymore). Most of the poems in this book are hip-hop inspired, so perhaps a little knowledge on the history of hip-hop from the 80s onwards would be beneficial.

Many of the poems are also activist and political in nature.A few are very personal. Some bemoan loss...more
A book of poetry about hip-hop. And it is hip-hop. The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop. Another reviewer stated that they didn't come away with any more of an understanding of hip-hop than before. The book seems to be more geared towards those already familiar with hip-hop. But even then, I don't think it's going to give a whole new understanding because chances are that if you're reaching for this book you're already in line with what Saul is saying about the state of hip-hop.

The book is about more t...more
Joshua Donellan
Saul Williams is unquestionably one of the most important poets currently breathing. His contributions to hip-hop and modern poetry include film, theatre, poetry both written and performed as well as a number of vastly creative albums. This book compromises selections from some of his best work over the years as well as new work. It's a piece that manages to be political and personal, transcendental and introspective, joyful and furious.

"Pupil my sight with orange balls of light
And echo my plig...more
Nope, I still don't get hip-hop.

I got this as part of our Secret Santa project over at The True Meaning of Life forums from the guy I was Santa to. I do appreciate the chance to expand my horizons, but I don't think it really helped me to "get" hip-hop any more than I do already, which is to say not at all.

I think the reason I don't get hip-hop, or at least one of the reasons, is that I'm not lyrically focused. When I hear a song, the lyrics are not usually the first thing I catch on to. I like...more
Robert Beveridge
Saul Williams, The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip-Hop (MTV, 2005)

I was really impressed by , said the shotgun to the head, the first Saul Williams book I read, and so I reached for this one as quick as I could get my library to loosen its taloned grip on it. Pity that, because The Dead Emcee Scrolls has all the things I didn't like about , said the shotgun to the head and none of the things I did like about it.

Oddly for a poetry book, the best parts of The Dead Emcee Scrolls are i...more
Nick Black
Dec 29, 2008 Nick Black marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-acquire
So I'm not much into modern poetry (how on earth does one start, or even get bearings? You may well be diving but I, I am merely sinking), but you've got to keep trying things out. Anyway, if you've missed Blackalicious's epic performance of Dr. Williams's "Release (Parts 1, 2, 3)" on 2002's Blazing Arrow, go acquaint yourself with some of the most daring, innovative, inspiring rap made this decade -- seriously, go do it; the album's an epic achievement and represents everything good about hip-h...more
Had no problems reading the prose in this book but since English is not my first language, reading the poetry part and getting it was kind of hard at times. Mainly because of the use of slang words. The effort, though, was totally worth it and i found the book profound and inspiring. It gets to the essence of hip hop (and life) in its purest form and is just another proof of Saul Williams' genius. I always appreciate the touch with an artist like him, no matter what media he uses - literature, m...more
I give the poetry 2 1/2 stars, as I felt like the same poem was being repeated over and over again. I also wasn't feeling that almost half this book is older material that continues to be recycled by Williams' publishers.

Big props however for the prose pieces where Williams speaks directly to his reader, creates the myth of the Dead Emcee Scrolls, and continually refers to the mythology throughout the text. The closing prose–an examination of the past, present and possible future of hip-hop as...more
Andrew Dietz
I can't help but think that Mr. Williams may have put more effort into the titular pun and its inherent concepts than the actual poetry therein. Much of it reads like scribbled journal entries; unedited, half-baked, and chock full of overwrought metaphors and vague symbolism. But when he scores he scores, particularly in the poems that read smoothly and rhythmically as 16-bar rap verse, and his rambling prose in re: the nature of hip-hop and What-It-All-Means is pretty interesting and insightful...more
Saul Williams, you muthafucker.
Those who burned, those still aflame, and the countless unnamed...

This earns five stars thanks to the mindblowingly good 'Co-Dead Language' - the written version of Saul's 'Coded Language', found on his first album Amethyst Rock Star. If you haven't heard it, or seen him read the poem, head over to YouTube now and give it a whirl.The rest of the book is also really good, and i'd hate to understate this, but seriously, this one poem in particular is just so damn good that it overshadows the rest,...more
awesome metered poetry
Vanessa Thompson
This author had a book signing Newburg, NY. My friend was there and brought the book for me as a signed copy.

I am a poetry writer and when I read this book, it was deep. He spoke about a variety of topics surrounding the music industry.

I will enjoy reading something else this author wrote.
Edmund Davis-Quinn
The conceit of the Dead Emcee Scrolls is too clever by half. That being said, there is some interesting stuff about the power of hip-hop here and the disappointments of modern rap.

I prefer the spoken word side of hip-hop myself and am active in the spoken word scene in Portland, Maine.

Honestly on this book, I prefer the journals to the Dead Emcee Scrolls themselves. Interesting book, very fair criticism of what hip-hop can be but doesn't always reach.
I must admit, I like Saul Williams performances better than his books. The same words on a page seem to lose their life somehow. Still, the concept of this book is awesome: Saul claims to have found scrolls of ancient poetry written in a language that he eventually deciphers through a magical sort of vision. It is these poems that he credits with his rise in the Slam Poetry world and many of them will be familiar to anyone who has listened to his cds.
Derek (Torrefaction)
One of the single most enlightened people writing today. He's poetry is deep and moving, and the themes are complex and intelligent. Our politics may differ, but the things we want do not. An amazing book, and even better when listening to The Rise and Fall of Niggytardust (An amazing album that is something of a compliment to the book, even utilizing some lyrics from passages in the Dead Emcee Scrolls.)
Oct 11, 2007 Lacey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all true hip hoppers
this is an incredibly brillant - sometimes too genius - work of art. anyone who loves hip hop and understands what it is, will love this book and Williams' interpretation of it right now. this brother is such an incredible artist. it also has a classic hip hop musicality to its verses, which is awesome for musicians who like to read. please pick this up if you're into poetry...i'm so sincere in that!
Corey Deiterman
Saul Williams is a great rapper and poet. I really loved this collection, however I must admit that I was disappointed in how little of it was new. Most of these poems have turned up in his songs or other writings before. It's a nice collection of them in one place though.
I had trouble connecting with this work until I stopped trying to make sense of the words on the page and, instead, started hearing Saul's voice delivering this message in my mind, with his distinct rhythm and inflection and flow. Then it became magic.
Hip-Hop is still a genre of writing and entertainment outside my spectrum. I can appreciate hip-hop, but I don't see it as necessary to my personal culture and identity.

Still, liked this book and can appreciate were the author is coming from.
I did not like this book. It just did not work on the page for me. I saw Saul Williams live and then this book was more than just a piece of strung together words. I think he should keep working out the CD thing
Andrew Farr
This wasn't a bad read, but it is my least favorite of Saul Williams' books when compared to she and said the shotgun to the head. A good read for fans, especially those deeply rooted in hip-hop culture.
Wednesday Green
Saul Williams is prophet - for reals. It stands to reason that there have to be some modern day ones, right? He brings it in so tight and I took it for gospel once in my life.
the poetry of hip hop...i can't imagine this guy putting out anything less than a 5 stars...check out his music too...his next album is being produced by Trent Reznor of NIN...
Adeola Adegbola
This Poetry is Superb in my opinion. Incredibly Intellectual and complex without being pretentious. Saul Williams paints beautiful pictures with words.
Juan Ramirez
This book is awesome. If you have background music while reading (like hip-hop beats), you can fit the poetry into the music rhythmically.

still one of my favorite poets, and i'm not mad he was an actor first....most actor spoken work people are cornballs....sorry's true
The introduction is unique and clever. I did a double take when I read the words "future slave narrative". the book is peppered with jems like that,
Sep 18, 2007 Maths rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets
If Hopkins lived today, he'd be this. Definitely check out the "inner breathlessness, outer restlessness." poem, even you dont get the book.
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Saul Stacey Williams is an American poet, writer, actor and musician known for his blend of poetry and hip-hop and for his leading role in the 1998 independent film Slam.
More about Saul Williams...
, said the shotgun to the head. She The Seventh Octave: The Early Writings of Saul Williams Chorus , said the shotgun to the head.

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