Booknote: Hip Hop Family Tree, Volume 1

Hip Hop Family Tree - Ed Piskor

(Crossposted from my blog The Itinerant Librarian)


This is a graphic novel history of the early days of hip hop and rap, and it all gets started in parks and nightclubs in the South Bronx. We get to see the rise of stars like Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and others who worked behind the scenes like Russell Simmons and Sylvia Robinson. The book takes us from the early days and rivalries to the start of the music entering the mainstream with Kurtis Blow's hit "The Breaks" and Debby Harry and Blondie's "Rapture."

The oversized volume is colorful with great art by Piskor. The art really captures the flamboyant and strong personalities of the artists. I found the story interesting, though at times I wanted a bit more depth. The narrative jumps quickly from episode to episode. It can be a bit superficial at times. However, it is a good book that captures its era well. I will seek out the next volume.

I liked it, but it could have been better at times, so I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars.