Hip-Hop is History

This is a book only Questlove could have written: a perceptive and personal reflection on the first half-century of hip-hop.

When hip-hop first emerged in the 1970s, it wasn’t expected to become the cultural force it is today. But for a young Black kid growing up in a musical family in Philadelphia, it was everything. He stayed up late to hear the newest songs on the radio. He saved his money to buy vinyl as soon as it landed. He even started to try to make his own songs. That kid was Questlove, and decades later, he is a six-time Grammy Award–winning musician, an Academy Award–winning filmmaker, a New York Times bestselling author, a producer, an entrepreneur, a cofounder of one of hip-hop’s defining acts (the Roots), and the genre’s unofficial in-house historian.

In this landmark book, Hip-Hop Is History, Questlove skillfully traces the creative and cultural forces that made and shaped hip-hop, highlighting both the forgotten but influential gems and the undeniable chart-topping hits—and weaves it all together with the stories no one else knows. It is at once an intimate, sharply observed story of a cultural revolution and a sweeping, grand theory of the evolution of the great artistic movement of our time. And Questlove, of course, approaches it with not only the encyclopedic fluency and passion of an obsessive fan but also the expertise and originality of an innovative participant. 

Hip-hop is history, and also his history.

Also available in audiobook format, read by Questlove. Listen to an excerpt!

About the audiobook

Recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York City, the audiobook features narration and storytelling by Questlove, who expertly weaves together a rich sonic tapestry of hip-hop tales large and small, well-known and obscure. From hearing “Rapper’s Delight” for the first time in 1979 to directing and producing the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop for the 2023 GRAMMYs, Questlove guides listeners through a musical journey brought to life by Questlove himself.

“[Questlove’s] performance is a comfortable blend of pro-level reading and genuine enthusiasm that is punctuated with tasty sound effects and quotes delivered by an unnamed voice talent. Along with his keen insights on racial politics and culture, his easy-to-hear performance will make listeners feel like they are “in the room” with the personalities and cultural energy of each era.” —AudioFile on Music Is History.

A Macmillan Audio production from AUWA Books.