What Is Hip-Hop? By Eric Morse and Anny Yi, 32 pgs.

Nov 22, 2017

What Is Hip-Hop? is a children’s book that uses rhymes and 3D clay illustrations to trace hip-hop music and culture, artist by artist, from rap’s early days in New York City to its current world-conquering status. The art’s incredible. It looks like claymation stills, and the figurines of famous rappers appear in tableaus featuring iconic images from their eras and cities. Everything is recreated in clay—from the palm trees and old school convertible in the NWA spread, to the brick walls and boomboxes of 1980s NYC. It’s a fun tribute, but the lack of a narrative makes it drag toward the end. When I gave What Is Hip-Hop? the ultimate test and read it to my toddler, his attention started to flag about two-thirds through. “Too much of a good thing” aside, this follow-up to Eric Morse and Anny Yi’s What Is Punk? improves on the original’s formula with nicely lit photography and a thoughtful layout. Get this book for your friends who are new parents. They’ll be grateful when their kids pull it off the shelf. –Chris Terry (Akashic, akashicbooks.com)