Top 5 books for hip hop fans

MC, theatre maker and beatboxer Testament explores some of literature's best meditations on the genre

The Talented Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation by Jeff Chang

Snapshots of hip-hop from its authentic beginnings among those who made a movement out of the little they had, to hip-hop’s co-option by commercialism. Ends prophetically, calling for figures like Kendrick Lamar and J Cole years before they blew up.

Where You’re At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip Hop Planet by Patrick Neate

Exceptional writer Neate sees how hip-hop has assimilated into cultures around the world. The first book on hip-hop I read that captures the feeling of being inside the scene.

The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop, and Why It Matters by Tricia Rose

Legendary British rapper Ty (thanks bro!) put me onto this book about how hip-hop relates to the media, race relations amongst many other things. Complex and controversial, it looks for positive ways forward.


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When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip Hop Feminist by Joan Morgan

This insight into the mind of a (really cool) black woman was massively helpful
when I was working on my one-man show WOKE. Morgan deals with the tensions of being a feminist hip-hop fan. 

Wiggaz With Attitude: My Life as a Failed White Rapper by Andrew Emery

A Yorkshire rap saga. Hilarious and nostalgic true story of a local rap wannabe who
ends up touching hip-hop greatness. It captures Leeds well, including peeps I’ve ended up knowing myself. (Also has very funny footnotes).

Testament is a judge for the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2019 with First Story and Cambridge University. The shortlist is announced on September 22 and the winner will be named on October 1

Image: Humans of Leeds