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Memoirs from the Hip Hop Community

Hip-hop has firmly rooted itself worldwide as an important part of modern day culture. Clothing, vernacular, art and literature have all been influenced by hip-hop culture. As of late, some notable rappers and hip-hop producers have thrown their hat in the literary ring, giving us the stories behind some of their greatest hits. Here are some popular memoirs written by hip-hop notables.

Mo' Meta Blues by Ahmir "Questlove" Thomas
Full admission: I have spent countless hours trying to convince family friends, and complete strangers that The Roots are among music's most underrated acts. Recently gaining mainstream popularity as the house band for Jimmy Fallon's "The Tonight Show", the hip-hop band has a catalog spanning 30 years and has contributed to some of the world's most popular acts. Much of that is due to one of the groups' founders, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. In this memoir, you discover Questlove's skill in impacting music of all genres has been a life-long labor of love.  As he describes his parents' musical career and his skill of drumming out patterns at eight months old, I waited for the book to take a braggadocious tone. Thankfully, it never came. What followed was a thorough yet quirky celebration of music and an acknowledgment of some players who've helped music progress. Combining personal history, multiple playlists, and Prince stories (and trust me, you NEED to hear the Questlove/Prince stories!), Questlove's biography provides high levels of both education and entertainment.

The Keys by DJ Khaled
Whether it's through his quotable adlibs or Instagram and Snapchat videos of his pep talks to his 8-month-old son, chances are you've already been introduced to DJ Khaled's enthusiastic persona. As a producer, recording artist, and self-proclaimed motivational speaker, Khaled is one of the popular entertainment figures at the moment - and he wants to share his path to success with YOU!  Chock-full of encouragement and superlatives, Khaled presents the reader with "the keys": mottos and motivations that he guarantees will result in personal success. Whether you read the book in one sitting or pace yourself to one key a day, all readers will leave encouraged to become "moguls" of their own personal endeavors.
One Day It'll All Make Sense by Common
Today, Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. - better known as "Common" - isn't considered an aggressive or polarizing figure in hip-hop, earning the nebulous classification of a "conscious rapper".  That wasn't always the case, and Common has made it a point to chronicle the good, the bad and the ugly in his life. He's blunt in his recollections of his rocky and winding road to success, his temper, his loves and losses. Through it all, one of his biggest supporters has been his mother and Common goes so far as to insert her thoughts throughout his book. What follows is a mother-son tag team account of some the rappers' most important moments. Each chapter begins with a letter Common has written to important people he's met along the way. While the timelines skip and overlap, the reader will emerge with a greater appreciation of an artist who's constantly evolving.
Unashamed by Lecrae
While he recognizes he fits the definition of a "Christian rapper", Lecrae has admitted the stigma that comes along with is can be daunting. At times, he's not taken seriously by "mainstream" artists and listeners and is considered too urban for many Christian artists/audiences. Lecrae's response is to simply tell his story, and he does so skillfully. Lecrae is remarkably honest in recounting his story, acknowledging that the highs and lows were part of what brought him to his current success, and he is "unashamed" to tell his story.
The Emperor of Sound: A Memoir by Timbaland
Producing for such artists as Madonna, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Aaliyah, Timbaland has never had a common or standard sound.  Throughout his memoir, you discover nothing about his life has been particularly common. From his abuse at the hands of an R & B star to his surprising friendship with Justin Timberlake, Timbaland is open about his circuitous route to success. He also provides a glimpse into his particular style of production, which is just as unique as he is.