By Chris Yuscavage
Have you read the good news yet? Probably not if you’re like most rap fans out there with their heads still stuck in Jay-Z’s new book, “Decoded.”
The book came in at no. 3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover, non-fiction books — right behind George W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points.” Not a bad look for Hov, whose decision to talk to everyone from Howard Stern to Hot 97 when his book dropped clearly paid off in a big way.
And just like just about everything Jay does, expect this to start a trend. Last week Chicago rapper Common announced that he will also be releasing a memoir, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” sometime next spring. The Roots drummer Questlove is reportedly working on a book set to drop in 2011 called “Mommy, What’s A Questlove?” And another book about Jay-Z’s life, “Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office,” is already slated to hit stores next March.
But here at RapFix, we’d like to point out that, if you just finished reading “Decoded,” there are also plenty of other rap memoirs that are also worth your time. If you loved Hov’s book, try throwing one of these selections onto your Christmas list. You won’t be disappointed.
The Book: “The Way I Am”
The Author: Eminem (with Sacha Jenkins)
Why You’ll Love It: There’s plenty of stories to read here, but there’s also a handful of things in Slim Shady’s book that make it more of a coffee table book than a memoir. From the never-before-seen flicks to the rap lyric sheets to a collection of personal drawings, “The Way I Am” showcases the way one of hip-hop’s favorite MCs really is: complicated.
The Book: “Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money & God”
The Author: Russell Simmons (with Nelson George)
Why You’ll Love It: Lest you think Russell Simmons’ life is all yoga mats and meditation, one glance at his memoirs reveal the Def Jam Records co-founder enjoying a much different lifestyle. He might have found peace with himself today. But once upon a time, he was just as wild and crazy, if not more wild and crazy than the artists he managed.
The Book: “Magic City: Trials of a Native Son”
The Author: Trick Daddy (with Peter Bailey)
Why You’ll Love It: Drug dealing? Pimping? Poverty? Crime? Jail? This book’s got a little of everything. Unfortunately, it was released the same day as Jay-Z’s Decoded and was largely overlooked by mainstream media, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a single song by Trick Daddy, it’s not hard to figure out why you need this book in your life.
The Book: “Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul”
The Author: Jermaine Dupri (with Samantha Marshall)
Why You’ll Love It: JD went from a backup dancer for Whodini to the richest guy throwing dollar bills in ATL’s Magic City strip club and dating Janet Jackson. Want to know how he did it? It’s all here.
The Book: “Unbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of The Notorious B.I.G.”
The Author: Cheo Hodari Coker
Why You’ll Love It: Biggie obviously didn’t live long enough to write his own memoirs. But he did leave behind a big pile of memories that helped put his life — and his death, for that matter — into the proper perspective.
The Book: “I Make My Own Rules”
The Author: LL Cool J (with Karen Hunter)
Why You’ll Love It: Sure, he’s released five albums, a handful of movies and a bunch of other books since dropping this memoir way back in 1998. But his first attempt in the world of publishing outlined exactly how Uncle L went from a 16-year-old MC with a mixing table from Sears to one of the most celebrated rappers of all-time—and how he managed to do it his way.
The Book: “E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX”
The Author: DMX (with Smokey Fontaine)
Why You’ll Love It: It’s easy to say X screwed up his entire career by getting involved with drugs and turning towards a life of crime. It’s a little bit harder to take a look at his past and consider why he did it. But that’s exactly what this autobiography will force you to do. Warts and all, this is X’s story.
The Book: “Ruthless: A Memoir”
The Author: Jerry Heller (with Gil Reavill)
Why You’ll Love It: Say what you want about the guy behind Ruthless Records — which, at one time, housed N.W.A. and later propelled Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony to great heights. Jerry Heller helped birth the role of the powerful entrepreneur-turned-record label CEO that still exists in hip-hop today and he explains how in this book.
The Book: “Rollin’ With Dre: The Unauthorized Account: An Insider’s Tale of the Rise, Fall and Rebirth of West Coast Hip Hop”
The Author: Bruce Williams (with Donnell Alexander)
Why You’ll Love It: Forget that the book isn’t authorized by Dr. Dre. Bruce Williams (aka “Uncle Bruce”) served as Dre’s right-hand man for more than a decade and has stories for days. So while the typically reserved good Doctor may not share many of the intimate memories about Death Row or the start of Aftermath, Williams has no problem doing it for him.
The Book: “The Rose that Grew from Concrete”
The Author: Tupac Shakur
Why You’ll Love It: Ok, so ’Pac’s book isn’t necessarily a memoir. But it does feature a collection of telling poems written by the late rapper during the late 1980s and early 1990s before he started rapping. And since the whole point of Jay’s “Decoded” was to show that rapping is another form of poetry, isn’t this the perfect companion?
Which rapper do you want to write a memoir next? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!