Benjamin's Reviews > Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop

Book of Rhymes by Adam Bradley
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Aug 18, 11

Read in August, 2011

He's trying to get people who respect poetry to respect rap music as a poetic form and at the same time he is trying to encourage hip hop heads to take the vocabulary that already exists for discussing poetry and use it to improve how we talk and think about rap. Where these audiences overlap is hard to say, but I do think he mostly succeeds, and he does get into more than just the literary and poetic terminology we learned if we'd paid attention in high school English. It is also fun when he draws from ancient poetic practices like Scottish kenning and ancient Greek capping to make his points. Although he is careful about race and doesn't make the mistake of white washing rap, he shies away from discussing class or advocating poetry programs in the "'hood" and I feel that he missed an opportunity there. He has a bit of a conservative bent throughout in that he doesn't address the politics of hip hop at all, but maybe that's good seeing as how he lists conservative grump Henry Louis Gates Jr Henry Louis Gates Jr. as a mentor in the acknowledgments. Lastly, the biggest problem with this book is the complete lack of women. They have simply been cut out of the story. Considering that, the entire thing becomes an apology for rap's misogyny ... something like (I know this stuff is super-sexist but) check out the assonance in this verse!
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