lukas, October 28, 2011 (view all comments by lukas)
He may not be, as he has often said, the greatest of all time, but Jay-Z is maybe the most successful hip-hop MC of all time; he's not a businessman, he's a business, man. This heavily produced book (photos, drawings, explanatory notes) is a mix of memoir, cultural history and exegesis of his lyrics. Since there are few rap memoirs, this fills a void and is both a compelling story of his life as well as a cogent argument for the importance of hip-hop music and culture. I read part of this while watching "The Wire," which is highly recommended. Portland gets a shout out (sorta) when he explains why he chose the city for a song: "I chose Portland because it's the whitest place I could think of." Ha. Go on brush your shoulder off P-town.
sharon.bridgforth, January 9, 2011 (view all comments by sharon.bridgforth)
Though I wish Jay Z had given at least a little focus to the ways that women historically and currently are treated in Hip Hop, and I wish he had given more of a nod to all the elements of Hip Hop (vs his sole focus on the MC), and I really found it heart breaking that he did not speak at all about his personal journey in taking accountability for selling crack (which he documents as something that destroyed the Black community). I still must say, that I love this book. I think it is extremely important and innovative (in how he makes the page come alive as Hip Hop). And it is a great read.
by Kirkus (starred review),
"Heartfelt, passionate and slick."
by The New Yorker,
"One of a handful of books that just about any hip hop fan should own."
Decoded is an intimate, first-person portrait of the life and art of Jay-Z, organized around a "decoding" of his most famous and provocative lyrics. This beautifully designed, fully illustrated book offers a surprising and revealing look at the life, influences, and artistic process of one of the most successful, widely admired, controversial, and compelling figures in American culture today.
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