Book of Rhymes

The Poetics of Hip Hop

By Adam Bradley
(Basic Civitas Books, Paperback, 9780465003471, 272pp.)

Publication Date: March 2009

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One of hip-hop studies’ brightest young scholars celebrates the lyrics of hip hop as the most vivid, most revolutionary form of American poetry today

About the Author

Adam Bradley, a Harvard PhD, is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Claremont McKenna College. He lives in Claremont, California.

Praise For Book of Rhymes

Boston Globe
“[Bradley] lays out a nuanced, academically rigorous argument that the best hip-hop deserves attention as genuine artistry…He traces the word rhythm from the Greek rheo, or flow. Biggie had flow; Jay-Z has flow. For an English professor, Adam Bradley got some flow of his own.”

Dallas Morning News
“Excellent…Where so many hip-hop studies lean heavily on politics and sociology, Book of Rhymes is a welcome and thorough exploration of rap aesthetics that isn’t afraid to be learned.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“As comfortable in the company of Jay-Z as he is with John Donne, Adam Bradley is a visionary critic, skillful and wise. His Book of Rhymes is a tour de force, brilliantly renovating hip hop criticism as he rescues the forgotten vanguard of American poetry.”

Cornel West
“Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes is a marvelous exploration into the poetic genius of rap and the cultural gravity of Hip Hop. His analysis is subtle, sophisticated, and soulful!”

Jeff Chang, editor, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
“Where some hear noise, Adam Bradley hears the past and future of poetics. With taste, precision, and style, Book of Rhymes explains the art of rap in ways as bold, lyrical, and imaginative as the art form itself. Heads and theorists will find much to love and argue with in this fine work.”

Schoolly D
“All I can say is wow—it was like somebody was reading my mind. So many books have been written about hip hop's history—that time and that magic—but if you don't get it from reading Book of Rhymes, then you're just not going to get it.”

Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Bradley delivers the intellectual dynamite with this astonishingly researched, passionately argued glove-across-the-face challenge to traditional hip hop scholarship. Superb on every level, a revelation and a joy to read.”

“Bradley’s book is ultimately successful, with a readable text that can engage diehard hip-hop heads, conventional poetry buffs or any combination of the two.”

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