Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Read This Now - Poetic Flow

This probably counts as backlisting or some such nonsense since we all should have read it about a month ago. But I just got to it and you should find the time to read Kelefa Sanneh's sort of review of Jay-Z's Decoded, which also covers rap as poetry and provides a quick, cliff-noted sort of rap history overview...

Happily, readers looking for a more carefully annotated collection of hip-hop lyrics can turn to an unlikely source: a rapper. In recent weeks, “The Anthology of Rap” has been upstaged by “Decoded” (Spiegel & Grau; $35), the long-awaited print d├ębut of Jay-Z, who must now be one of the most beloved musicians in the world. The book, which doesn’t credit a co-writer, is essentially a collection of lyrics, liberally footnoted and accompanied by biographical anecdotes and observations. “Decoded” has benefitted from an impressive marketing campaign, including a citywide treasure hunt for hidden book pages. (The book’s launch doubled as a promotion for Bing, the Microsoft search engine.) So it’s a relief to find that “Decoded” is much better than it needs to be; in fact, it’s one of a handful of books that just about any hip-hop fan should own. Jay-Z explains not only what his lyrics mean but how they sound, even how they feel...
Go read the whole thing online or in the December 6 issue of the New Yorker if you have it lying around.

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