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The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop
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The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Explore the roots of rap in this stunning, rhyming, triple-timing picture book!

A generation voicing

stories, hopes, and fears

founds a hip-hop nation.

Say holler if you hear.

The roots of rap and the history of hip-hop have origins that precede DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Kids will learn about how it evolved from folktales, spirituals, and poetry, to the showmanship o
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by little bee books
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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Don't miss the back matter, which includes a great timeline and glossary. Fantastic illustrations!
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books

“Hip-hop is a language that’s spoken the whole world ‘round.”

Big, bright pages rule this book. The art comes alive on the page! Faces, graffiti, boom boxes, and DJs! The images stand tall. They inspire you to listen and move and take action. I loved every page!

The Roots of Rap will definitely get the attention of young readers. But I just wish the words tied it all together a bit better. All the pieces were there—the past, the street dancing, the records, the performers—but something more needed
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
My only quibble with the book is that it doesn't have enough pictures of female MCs from back in the day: Queen Latifah, Salt in Pepa and TLC but TLC was more on the R&B side than hip hop.

Where is Monie Love? Where is MC Lyte? Where is Roxanne Shante?

If we are getting to the root --even a picture book for kids-- then let the little ones know that there were some heavy spitters on the female side.

Just saying.

Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Music is one of the most influential cultural expressions there is and hip-hop is a perfect example of that. As Carole Boston Weatherford points out in her new picture chronicling the history of rap and hip-hop and the people who made it happen, this was not a musical genre that sprang up out of nowhere. Instead it had its roots in the oral tradition of folktales, street rhymes and spirituals. These were the very same influences, she points out, on two of the greatest African American poets - Pa ...more
Mrs. Krajewski
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunning illustrations and language. It’s history and celebration rolled into one fabulous book. My high schoolers will appreciate it.
Baby Bookworm
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Roots Of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison, a lush and beautiful ode to the art form.

It started with poetry, folktales, spirituals, and rhymes. Then came funk, providing the basslines and rhythm, then the Jamaican MCs and dub. Finally, it was all pulled together in the Bronx by D
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Award-winning author Weatherford illuminates hip-hop’s complex history, rooted in the spoken word of folk tales, street rhymes and spirituals. Beginning with homage to Langston Hughes and James Brown, she jumps forward to when “rappers start to rule” and B-boys are busting new moves on New York street corners. DJ Kool appears, “dropping, scratching, beat juggling/matching wax on wheels of steel”. Hip-hop nation spreads, till today, “From Atlanta to Zanzibar, youth spit freestyle freedom sounds.” ...more
It'as not spectacularly well-written (not poorly written, either) but nicely illustrated. Primary to its importance is its subject matter, which is rarely if ever addressed in children's literature, particularly picture books.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do yourself a favor and read aloud and let the flow come through! We need more books like this!! It's such a great way to introduce kids and more to the pure artistry of rap and breaks down some of the language at the end if you're unfamiliar. The only thing I would ask is that the professor and the illustrator made an introductory playlist and link it in the book. I knew all the artists and songs but having the compiled in a sweet playlist would be awesome and truly impactful for folks who have ...more
Susannah Goldstein
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
I love love love the art (especially the page where the spray can is painted at the reader) but the material could’ve been better organized.
Ilse O'Brien
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunning artwork! A very accessible text for kids. The glossary will be important for kids, too.
Jillian Heise
This picture book is phenomenal! Frank Morrison's illustrations are amazing, and the rhythmic text flows through the history of rap music. I especially appreciated all the back matter, including the author & illustrator notes in which their respect, love, and appreciation for the genre shone through. This book should be in all classrooms and school libraries. Perfect pairing with What Is Hip-Hop? & When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.
Paul  Hankins
"A boom box-toting homey blasts a hot track on the corner./Passerby four-deep surround a street performer."

Frank Morrison's "drips"coming off of the letters on the dust jacket of Carole Boston Weatherford's new book seem to indicate that both Coretta Scott King award winner and honoree are coming together to tag children's literature with some fresh and unique: a closer look at hip hop and rap that we don't often see in the picture book format.

Morrison's characterization are a kind of a "I Know
Christina Carter
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Roots of Rap, 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop is an incredible work of art with a value that far exceeds its humble price tag. Each page is a brilliant expression of the creativity and passion that is rap music and hip-hop culture. Paying tribute to poetry, street rhymes and phat beats; storytelling in its many artistic forms. From breakdancing and boom boxes, to deejays and block parties; brothers with funky-fresh rhymes and queens rocking the mic. This is an ode to hip-hop that is unli ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 4.6

Do you know the origins or rap and hip-hop? Rap started from folktales, spirituals, and James Brown. Then in the early seventies rap starts to rule with tagging on just about all surfaces in New York. Next comes boom boxes, dancing, and remixing. Then comes wordplays and rhyming from one of my favorites - the Sugarhill Gang! Not long after that the women start to rule the rap and rap starts to rule the world! Who is your favorite rapper or hip-hop song? You
Thomas Bell
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. I was hoping to learn something about, oh, I don't know, the roots of rap. The author just flashed some names by (in hip-hop beat of course, which was cool) and didn't tell us anything about who they were or what they did to influence the music or the culture. I learned a lot more just in the author's and illustrator's notes at the end of the book.

I was also disappointed by the author's emphasis that graffiti played an important role in the development of rap and hip-hop. Did
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Harden
As I read this book I pictured myself as the rapping granny in The Wedding Singer. Pretty sure I'll never be that cool.
With large bold graffiti style illustrations and a poetic rhyme, this book condenses the history of rap from the poetry of Langston Hughes and the soul shouting of James Brown to street corner performances and Grammy winning albums. The book is simple enough for preschoolers but could be used with older students who want to delve deeper
Desera Favors
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Either my flow was off or I couldn't catch up LOL, and the connection to Hip Hop and rap, and rap influences from Jazz, funk and spoken word were kinda all over the place. With all that said, my son LOOOOOOVED this book, he especially liked the illustrations and the facts and glossary in the back of the book! He told me he wanted to keep the book and honestly I would love to buy it for him. We checked the book out at the local library! If nothing else it is a great keepsake and an awesome introd ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Ironic that a book about rap does not match the beats between each set of rhyming lines. It was distracting and frustrating.

The origins go way back - beyond old school (11 syllables)
But it is in the seventies that rappers start to rule (14 syllables)

Why not have made it
The origins, they go way back - back beyond old school (13)
But it's in the seventies that rappers start to rule (13)

I understand that when rapping, a person can drag out or speed up, but when reading, that's just too muc
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has a rhythm that moves with the era of the music, but it stumbles in the middle as it tries to name the greats. I can feel the rhyme move from easy listening to edgy through the slice of the words, but the author made a few mistakes when trying to force the rhythm.

The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It at times pays homage to both the style of the Harlem Renaissance and the street-art mentioned in the story. There are all kinds of textures, styles, and techniques to talk abou
Kasie Roden
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I never would have normally checked out The Roots of Rap since I’m more of a pop/country fan, so I am really glad for the opportunity to have heard the author at a recent conference I attended talk about this book. When I read it at home together with my children, we were able to experience and learn new things together. We had conversations about famous artists and the evolution of rap. We listened to samples of songs and the kids learned what dub and then dubstep is. So glad we checked it out!
Holla! A book that praises the history and evolution of hip-hop. Especially love that they acknowledge and represent females such as Queen Latifah, TLC, and Salt-N-Pepa; all of whom were favorites on my boombox growing up (and still remain on my playlist today). Gorgeous illustrations with must-read author and illustrator notes. Tons of back matter makes for bonus material. I just cannot stop giving this book praise!
Desiree Sotomayor
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Man, those illustrations tho....anyway, this made me think of a Hip-Hop Family Tree Jr. and I'm totally cool with that. Biggest issue I can think of is the fact some of the rappers mentioned in it might not be best for really little ears (Eminem, Run DMC, etc.), I can see parents maybe getting grumpy and frumpy about that. Still, a nicely illustrated introduction to the history of hip-hop for younger listeners/fans of The Get Down, Hip-Hop Family tree, etc.
Cindy Dobrez
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a much-needed book to balance the many, many jazz and blues picture book biographies for children. Rhyming text and illustrations are fabulous. Full review with a recommended book to pair with it at this Bookends Blog post.
Melody Palmer
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one quite a lot. It reads like it's more for early elementary school, not really for a preschool storytime. The artwork in this is fantastic: vibrant, bold, beautiful. It has a street art feel, which is appropriate because that's how rap and hip-hop started. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a child of the 80s or anyone who loves music, rap and hip-hop in particular.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book practically pulses with energy! Informative for someone who knows very little about rap and absolutely stunning to look at. Every page demands time to absorb and appreciate. I am SURE that there is much here that someone knowledgeable about rap will get that I am missing too.

Helpful back matter includes a glossary of rap terms and a Who's Who of Hip Hop.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Frank Morrison outdid himself- every page is absolutely stunning. Short rhyming text reads aloud beautifully. This book in the right hands could be a showstopper at story time. Highly recommended for ages 4-11 (that is a huge age range, I know, but I think it would work well as an introduction to the topic for older kids- doesn't feel babyish at all).
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I think my expectations were off. I wanted information, not just general celebration. This book is going to raise more questions than it answers, and unfortunately, there aren’t many (any?) other children’s books on the topic for this whose interest is piqued. Please make a whole book out of the back matter. The artwork is fantastic.
Emily Davenport
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is DOPE! What a beautiful work that presents an entire world of music and culture to young people (and any adults who are lucky enough to read it). The artwork is gorgeous and the lyrical text leaps off the page, turning this book into an essential work cementing hip-hop's role in our culture.
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Carole Boston Weatherford is a children's book author and poet who "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles." A number of Weatherford's books tell the stories of African-American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, and Billie Holiday. Other books recount historical events such as the Greensboro Sit-ins and the bombing of the Sixteenth Stree ...more