DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Feb 22 2013

Great Rappers are Great Readers!

by Jimmy L

the Richie Perez Radical LibraryI’ve always believed that rappers possessed a type of literacy, though unconventional, that’s highly attuned to the intricacies of language. The best rappers use tone, diction, sound, and personas (unreliable narrators?) in impressive ways, an accomplishment equal to the best literary works of fiction and poetry. So I was pleased when I came across an article about a ‘radical’ community library for youth opening up in the Bronx.

Housed inside the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective headquarters in the Bronx, the same place that hosts monthly hip-hop open mic nights, the Richie Perez Radical Library was launched by the hip-hop-centric Rebel Diaz Arts Collective.

“I tell them, ‘The more you read, the iller you’ll be as an emcee,’” said Rodrigo Venegas, aka Rodstarz, one-third of the rap crew, Rebel Diaz, and a founding member of the cultural collective with an activist bent.

Read the rest of this story here.


Jul 1 2009

Your Library of Summer Sounds

by Jnai W

In Memory of Michael Jackson 1958-2009 (that was weird to write...)

In Memory of Michael Jackson 1958-2009 (that was weird to write...)

The Library offers all sorts of great summertime diversions including public use computers,  programs, book discussions and children’s activities–in addition to its vast collection of great books. Heck, the Library even offers a cool and welcoming respite from the blazing summer sun. But I, for one, continue to be amazed and excited by the eclectic and ever-expanding collection of great music here at DCPL.

Here are some of my favorite finds in the  “Wow, I didn’t know we had this!” category:

The Best of Eric B. and Rakim: The Millenium Collection:  Hip-Hop Hooray!I’ve noticed that the Library is steadily expanding its hip-hop repertoire (but rest easy, parents, the selections are still, for the most part, in the PG-13 arena).  As a kid, I missed out on alot of the quote-unquote “old skool rap” (my mom wasn’t having any of it!) so it’s great to explore some of the seminal artists of this musical genre.  Some of my favorite cuts include “Paid In Full”,  “I Ain’t No Joke”  and “Microphone Fiend”.

808’s and Heartbreak by Kanye West: Say what you will about a rapper who’s considered egotistical, even by hip hop standards, but he’s always been able to support his boasts with cutting-edge, exciting music. The Auto-Tuned warbling (tedious in other artists but somehow Mr.West makes it work)! The introspective lyrics! The taiko drums! This is my favorite Kanye album to date. Prime cuts: “Love Lockdown”, “Say You Will”  “Welcome to Heartbreak” and “Heartless”.

Anything Tori Amos:  It seems someone in Collection Management has a taste for Tori Amos. As a teen I found her work a bit esoteric but I’m definitely rediscovering the flame-haired chanteuse. Right now I’m tucking into her 2005 album The Beekeeper.  I’m enjoying the tracks “Parasol” and “Sweet The Sting” so far.  The Library is a great place for really learning more about an artist that fascinates you. But if Amos is already your cup of tea you may want to delve into some of DCPLs Tori-centric literature including her fascinating memoir Tori Amos: Piece By Piece (co-authored by Ann Powers) and Comic Book Tattoo, a collection of graphic novel works based on Amos’ songs.

Leonard Cohen: Live in London: Some cheesy manager ran off with Cohen’s earnings so he has come back to work. Sorry for his loss but it is indeed his fans’ gain. Here’s another artist I’ve been turned on to since I’ve been here at the Library. For people who love writers who happen to sing  look no further than this album. I’d tell you how I like it but since it’s brand new I have to wait in the request queue like everyone else. But you can check out the Library’s other Cohen albums until your turn with Live In London comes around.

I could do this all day long. Literally, I get goosebumpy thinking of all the wonderful music you can find at the Library. Thank you, DCPL, for being awesome!

P.S: If you know anyone who doesn’t remember how awesome Michael Jackson was (and who isn’t still a little heartbroken by his passing) please  direct them to these Jackson classics.


Feb 10 2009

Hip Hop Hooray!

by Jnai W

I’ve taken a break from the book I blogged about two weeks ago (How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard) to do a number of things. Among my diversions from this book were other books including comedian Steve Martin’s brilliant memoir Born Standing Up (Scribner) and an intriguing book called Def Jam, Inc (One World Ballantine) by Stacy Gueraseva. In her book, Gueraseva chronicles the rise of Def Jam Recordings, the preeminent and pioneering record label that helped steer rap music into the mainstream.

I was reading about Def Jam as I watched the Grammys on Sunday night. I’d read snatches of the book during commercials, awkward podium banter and some of the performances (sorry, Kid Rock!). Watching the awards show with its genre-splicing rap performances–Jay-Z meets Coldplay! Lil Wayne and Allen Toussaint!–was quite a reminder of how far hip hop music has come. What was once an underground, New York-centered movement is now a global phenomenon. Lately I’ve grown curious about the roots of rap music, its cultural significance and what to expect for the future.

DCPL is a great source for all things hip-hop, from music to books to DVDs. Here are some other notable titles:

Beats, Rhymes and Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip-Hop (Harlem Moon/Broadway Books): This book features insightful essays, articles and interviews of some of hip hop music’s biggest names.

Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip -Hop by Michael Eric Dyson (Basic Civitas): Author Dyson examines and discusses the cultural significance of rap music not as a casual observer or a detached outsider but as a fan who appreciates hip hop and understand its roots.

In Ya Grill: The Faces of Hip-Hop (Billboard Book):This book, with photos by Michael Benabib, features the vivid, nostalgia-inducing images of some of hip-hops original all-stars including future Hollywood powerhouses Will Smith and Queen Latifah.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang (St. Martin’s Press)

Third Coast: OutKast, Timbaland and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing by Roni Sarig (Da Capo Press): This book focuses on the rise of Southern rap and its contributions to the hip-hop community.

DCPL also has great DVDs that explore hip hop culture, including:

The MC: Why We Do It : This documentary features interviews with hip-hop’s preeminent voices including Slick Rick, Talib Kweli and Kanye West as they discuss their craft.

Krush Groove, a flick about an up and coming rap label in the ’80s and Style Wars, a documentary on hip-hop culture in early 80s NYC, are also worth a look.