A New Book Lists The Most Important Rap Songs Of Every Year Since 1979. Did They Get It Right?

In “The Rap Year Book,” writer Shea Serrano attempts to do what many may say is impossible – pick only one Rap song from every year as the definitive best. Along with illustrations from Arturo Torres and a foreword from Ice-T, the project takes the form of a high-school yearbook, with each song represented in a “photograph,” but the book takes the standard yearbook framework a step forward and really gets down to the nitty gritty of what makes each song so great. In fact, the book’s subtitle is “The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed,” and that is not an understatement. Each song comes with accompanying notes, charts, lyric maps, and diagrams to support its claims to being the year’s best (or not).

Earlier this week, Serrano shared an excerpt of the book (which is available on Amazon) with Pitchfork. In it, he dissects Tupac’s 1991 single “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” which isn’t his choice for best song of that year, but which is still included. It’s this facet of the book that makes it not just a collection of one guy’s opinions. Throughout, songs others may have chosen in place of his own favorites are studied, making the book not so much a definitive list but rather a series of touchstones upon which further, sometimes heated debate can be built. And, while most of the work that has gone into the book comes from a place of analysis and academia, there is plenty of whimsy along the way, which is evidenced in the photos below.


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Who’s got your vote for this year’s Best Hip-Hop song?

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