This is actually kinda cool — all about the artists who shaped hip hop.
Oh, it rhymes!
Is this supposed to be a song? a rap?
Bro, that’s hecka cool!”
— Aya, 9th grade, reading
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop
by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by Frank Morrison
Simon & Schuster / Little Bee, 2019
Amazon / Your local library
“Hip-hop and rap aren’t often featured in children’s books,” Swizz Beatz writes in his introduction. And yet, this music speaks to our children, fills their lives. With this picture book, Weatherford helps children see that their music springs from a long tradition of poetry and music. As Weatherford writes, “hip-hop is poetry at its most powerful.”
I am honored to have Carole Boston Weatherford here to share a little about how hip-hop and rap have inspired her, and what planted the seeds for this picture book.
THE ROOTS OF RAP: HIP HOP & CHILDHOOD MEET
reflection by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator Frank Morrison’s oil paintings in the book have a vibrancy and vitality that borders on virtuosity. He honors hip hop legends and luminaries and shows the four pillars of graffiti, b-boying/breakdancing, emceeing and deejaying. I linger over the spreads showing youthful expression through hip hop, a culture young people are inventing.
Just as my son and daughter (now young adults) reintroduced me in the 1990s to children’s books, they also hipped me to the hip hop of the day on BET and urban radio. At Super Jam, my first rap concert, I tagged along as chaperone to my daughter and her friend. Was I in for a shock!? Unlike the jazz and R&B concerts that I attended, there were no bands at Super Jam–only a deejay scratching and the emcees spitting rhymes.
Then, there were the CDs that son and daughter bought. They’d mute explicit lyrics, so as not to offend their mother. Although their censorship meant that I rarely heard entire songs, I found much to like—especially cuts featuring choruses of children. Some of those pulsate with positivity. Here are a few of my favorites:
- It’s a Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
- I Can – Nas
- Mind Your Manners – Chiddy Bang
Enjoy this trailer for Roots of Rap:
Thank you, Carole, for sharing a little peek into what led to this book. Illustrations copyright ©2019 Frank Morrison, shared by permission of the publishers. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Simon & Schuster / Little Bee. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases if you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site.
©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books