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If asked to list the greatest innovators of modern American poetry, few of us would think to include Jay-Z or Eminem in their number. And yet hip hop is the source of some of the most exciting developments in verse today. The media uproar in response to its controversial lyrical content has obscured hip hop's revolution of poetic craft and experience: Only in rap music can the beat of a song render poetic meter audible, allowing an MC's wordplay to move a club-full of eager listeners.Examining rap history's most memorable lyricists and their inimitable techniques, literary scholar Adam Bradley argues that we must understand rap as poetry or miss the vanguard of poetry today.Book of Rhymesexplores America's least understood poets, unpacking their surprisingly complex craft, and according rap poetry the respect it deserves.
Adam Bradley is an assistant professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College.