The essential oral history of hip-hop, from its origins on the playgrounds of the Bronx to its reign as the most powerful force in pop culture
The music that would come to be known as hip-hop was born at a party in the Bronx in the summer of 1973. Now, fifty years later, it’s the most popular music genre in America. Just as jazz did in the first half of the twentieth century, hip-hop and its groundbreaking DJs and artists—nearly all of them people of color from some of America’s most overlooked communities—pushed the boundaries of music to new frontiers.
And yet, the stories of many hip-hop pioneers are at risk of being lost forever. Now, in The Come Up, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Abrams offers the most comprehensive account so far of hip-hop’s rise. In more than 300 interviews conducted over three years, Abrams has captured the stories of the DJs, executives, producers, and artists who both witnessed and themselves forged the history of hip-hop. Masterfully combining these voices into a symphonic narrative, Abrams traces how the genre grew out of the resourcefulness of a neglected population in the South Bronx, and from there how it flowed into the city’s other boroughs, and beyond—from electrifying live gatherings onto radio and vinyl, below to the Mason-Dixon line, to the West Coast through gangster rap and G-funk, and then across generations.
Abrams has on record Grandmaster Caz detailing hip-hop’s infancy, Edward “Duke Bootee” Fletcher describing the origins of “The Message,” DMC narrating his role in introducing hip-hop to the mainstream, Ice Cube recounting N.W.A’s breakthrough and breakup, Kool Moe Dee recounting his Grammys boycott, and countless more key players. Throughout, Abrams conveys with singular vividness the drive, the stakes, and the relentless creativity that ignited one of the greatest revolutions in modern music.