Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Review: Hip-Hop Family Tree Vols. 1 & 2

I love comics, hip-hop, history and beautiful books.  All these things helped form who I am today. As a librarian I still love comics, hip-hop, history, and beautiful books. I feel it is important to cover these aspects in a library collection. Rarely do all these categories come in one work, but this series has it all.  I was stoked to receive this collection as a gift, but didn't get around to reading it until now.
Amazingly beautiful slipcase!
The Hip-Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor Vols. 1 & 2 exceeds the bar of comics, art, hip-hop, history and beautiful books standards. It will make an invaluable addition to your library collection.  This comic is published by the amazing Fantagraphics press. Buy it now--your community will appreciate it. 

Vol. 1 traces the history of Hip-Hop from the 1970's to 1981.  It is filled with little vignettes about seminal figures and events in Hip-Hop history.  The stories it tells begin in the bronx with kids rocking out to Cool Herc's new kind of music.  Community halls Hip-Hop parties was where it all started.   The break was the instrumental part of the song.  When a break occurred Cool Herc saw that was when people really got into the groove dancing.  Cool Herc Figured out how to extend the break of the record by looping it using two copies. This spurred on Break Dancing.
Vol. 1
The story goes on to show how the dj's, dancers and artists all collaborated and formed the culture of Hip-Hop.  Fab 5 Freddy, LEE, GrandMaster Flash, Samo and all the important key players are in this amazing work.  The history covers business dealings and key PR moves that created a buzz and sold records. Artists are given their due in this amazing comic. The graffiti scene is shown and described in anecdotes and short story lines.

Panel about the film Wild Style
The artwork in this comic is so dope. Piskor's ability to caricature people and bring out their personalities in comic panels is amazing.  His caricatures of Russell Simmons and other key figures of the Hip-Hop movement had me rolling in laughter and recognition.  The use of newsprint style coloring is sometimes enhanced with special coloring to make it really zing!

Vol. 2
Vol. 2 covers from 1981-1983.  It just keeps getting better.  The stories and characters are done so well this comic reminds me of an amazing documentary.  I really love how Piskor makes these larger than life figures into real people.   These stories are historically accurate and insightful.   These volumes cover both East Coast and West Coast movements.  The Ice-T origin story and the Dr. Dre Origins are great and really fun.

What I like about these books:
  • Historically accurate
  • Beautifully drawn and colored
  • Caricatures are amazingly good and accurate
  • Coverage of different aspects of Hip-Hop
Classic Hip-Hop NYC scene.  
Why you should buy this book for your library:
  •  This book is an important work on the history of Hip-Hop
  • The art is great
  • The stories are wonderful
  • The book fits YA and Adult classifications
In addition to being an excellent addition to your library collection.  This slipcase makes an amazing Christmas gift.  I know--I received mine as a Christmas gift and was thrilled!

Any student, or fan of Hip-Hop will love these books.  Go get them!

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