Ya gotta hear some hip-hop tunes before reading further about Kiana Fitzgerald's marvelous book Ode To Hip-Hop: 50 Albums that define 50 Years of Trailblazing Music.
Here are two quick audio snapshots from songs you might know. "Empire State of Mind" from Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys (2009), and "I'll Be Missing You," a number one song in 1997 by Sean "Puff Daddy / P. Diddy" Combs and Faith Evans.
2023 was the year of 50 years of hip-hop tributes
Many people jumped on the nostalgia tribute bandwagon this year commemorating a musical genre most thought would disappear faster than a disco cover song.
By September, 2023 it became quite easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. The great projects stood out from the duds.
I was extremely happy to add Kiana Fitzgerald's fresh hardcover book to my library. Ode To Hip-Hop: 50 Albums that define 50 Years of Trailblazing Music is an A+ project.
Kiana picks hip-hop artists and songs representing these decades:
- The 1970s
- The 1980s
- The 1990s
- The 2000s
- The 2010s
- The 2020s
Wow! What an ambitious project. The meticulous nature of the research, storytelling, and wonderful prose is peppered in the pages with colorful illustrations by illustrator Yay Abe.
The book that needed to be written
My music anthropology captures real life experiences primarily with R&B, soul, rock, pop, disco, and jazz. Those are my strengths. Ode To Hip-Hop fills in lots of missing pieces absent from my own personal familiarity.
Don't get me wrong. I have some of the records, and have seen live in concert Whodini, Beastie Boys, RUN-D.M.C., Salt-N-Pepa, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Busta Rymes, Ludacris, DMX, and many others.
If your love affair with hip-hop has been platonic or hardcore, you will gain wisdom through the well vetted facts Kiana Fitzgerald presents in this book.
Her music centric story begins in the early 1970s examining the explosion of a new underground trend flying under the radar in the Bronx, New York.
The vision of Sugar Hill Records cofounder and CEO Sylvia Robinson is illuminated as a highlight of this decade.
Kurtis Blow, RUN-D.M.C., Salt-N-Pepa, Eric B. & Rakim, N.W.A., plus other artists jump from the pages as you learn more about the 1980s.
As we move on through the decades, virtually every year within the 50 year span receives a well written summary focusing on one or more artist.
The introduction to Ode To Hip-Hop: 50 Albums that define 50 Years of Trailblazing Music should not be overlooked. Fitzgerald digs deep into her rationale for creating this outstanding, well written, carefully researched and colorfully crafted resource. The book has both visual and cerebral appeal.
In her conclusion on page 178, Kiana says "from selecting albums to research to writing, working on this book has been the adventure of a lifetime."
She continues "there has never been a culture-shifting, trendsetting invention such as hip-hop."
I agree. Hip-hop is truly an American art form that has planted roots, blossomed rhymes, and bloomed beats as a bright rose of popular modern music, performing its lingo in different languages all over the world.