First Hip Hop took over the music scene, now it is on to the publishing industry. Hip Hop is taking on a new venture, book publishing. It has become a new trend to see rappers putting their work for the world to see in book format rather than just lyrics. As this new trend emerges, more and more of the big names in Hip Hop are taking part in the emergence of a Hip-Hop genre.
In fact one rapper who has his head in the publishing game is 5o Cent. The rapper has his own imprint offered by Gallery Books. Even a leading publishing company, Simon & Schuster, has an imprint that offers Hip Hop books known as Cash Money Content. The books published under these imprints fall under the genre of urban literature.
Within the publishing world the genre of urban literature, which has also been referred to as street literature, is the closest thing to Hip Hop lyrics and music. Unfortunately, not everyone within the business is happy with this particular choice for a genre header. The publisher for Albert Johnson, better known to Hip Hop fans as Prodigy is one of those unhappy people. The primary reason for the discontent stems from how the genre is described.
Urban literature is often seen as books that are filled with violence, crime and the ever present gangs. For Hip Hop authors, this is not always the case and the stories they want to tell may be less about the grit and more about hope and learning from an individual’s mistakes. This is definitely true for Prodigy. In fact his own work stems from his personal life and the choices he has made. The books he wants people to read are about his experiences and what he has learned from those choices.
If Hip Hop is really going to attempt to take on the publishing industry, then there needs to be a way to market the books beyond the idea of crime and violence. That is the ultimate goal of the latest Hip Hop imprint from publisher Akashic, Infamous Books. Turning the focus away from the current vibe of urban literature, Infamous Books hopes to offer novels with more to the story, ones that have a moral and teach some type of lesson.
Infamous Books from Akashic is not the only publisher looking to make a difference in how people perceive Hip Hop literature. Augustus Publishing is another Hip Hop focused publishing house, looking to offer up more than the normal story. With multiple imprints now offering Hip-Hop literature and publishers looking beyond the negativity associated with typical urban literature, there is a real chance for a new outlook on these stories. Instead of looking at these books as just another indie genre with a penchant for violence and crime, these books are getting a chance to tell a real story.
As people become more familiar with the idea of a Hip Hop publishing takeover, these books will have to continually bring substance and strong storytelling. Rappers and other Hip Hop artists want the world to take notice that urban literature is more than just street stories. The fact that some of the biggest names in music are lending their voices to the genre can only help push the success of Hip Hop literature.
By Kimberley Spinney