Is rap poetry? The question has become a loaded one. It seems today the only people who don’t write poetry are poets. The work of anyone else we feel deserves praise, from Toni Morrison to Bob Dylan—and now, Roxanne Shanté—is called poetry. Far from democratizing the practice, this designation of “poetry” for those we like and whose work we respect risks reducing poetry to little more than a free-floating feeling. In one sense, this instinct is true enough: Poetry is ultimately where you find it, and many will find it here. But aren’t the lyrics profound enough as the words to great songs? Need they be poetry, too?
the book will be dropping around the same time as Jay-Z’s “Decoded,” which Carter says he hopes will show that rap is “really poetry.”
“The Anthology of Rap” showcases the inventiveness and vitality of rap’s lyrical art. The volume also features an overview of rap poetics and the forces that shaped each period in rap’s historical development, as well as a foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and afterword by Common.