Book Notes: A Breakdown of the Latest Urban Reads


Spring has already sprung, and summer is on the way! This is the season that inspires sweet words of poetry both on wax and on paper, and this month,’s “Book Notes” salutes writers of both new and classic books of poems that enlighten and inspire:

Armageddon of Funk by Michael Warr

This year, for the first time the Black Caucus of the American Library Association recognized books of poetry for its annual Literary Awards. In Armageddon of Funk, Warr examines numerous issues in American life by juxtaposing unlike situations side-by-side. Armageddon of Funk was awarded as a honorable mention for its interconnection of a world of opposites.

Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Hip-Hop has long been understood to be the poetry of disenfranchised people of the inner-city community. In this workbook-style book, Hip-Hop is understood through in-depth analysis of poetic literary devices and writing activities. The book compares the poetry of Robert Frost and Shakespeare to Public Enemy and Notorious B.I.G. Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics is a great exploration of our culture for any lover of rhyme.

The Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur

A collection of poems written, between 1989-1991, these passionate and engaging poems were published after the legendary rappers death, in 1996. Complete with black and white photographs, drawings, and a preface by his mother and a foreward by Nikki Giovanni, The Rose that Grew from Concrete is a classic that deserves to grace the bookshelf of every Hip-Hop head.

Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop by Adam Bradley

Using the lyrics of Eminem and Jay-Z among others, the Book of Rhymes is a classic book that explores Hip-Hop as poetry, and as a source of revolution in the craft of poetry. Harvard Professor of African-American Studies, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. praises Book of Rhymes as, “a tour de force.” As Hip-Hop ages, and academic study of the culture grows, scholars, like Bradley, who grew up on the genre will be the champions of preserving its brilliance for future generations.

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 by Nikki Giovanni

With a tattoo that reads, “Thug Life,” on her forearm, Giovanni is a poetic legend and lover of Hip-Hop music and culture. She has written numerous articles and poems for young people and remains a professor of poetry and literature at Virginia Tech. Giovanni helped fuel the” Black Arts Movement” which preceded the births of many Hip-Hop legends. Nikki Giovanni is a staple of Black culture and her contributions to Hip-Hop culture can’t be understated.

Biba Adams is a Senior Staff Writer and Book Editor for She is a lover of all things literary, including poetry. Send her handclaps and fingersnaps on Twitter (@BibatheDiva).