‘Rapper’s Deluxe’: 50 years of hip-hop history in one Phaidon book

New Phaidon book Rapper’s Deluxe nods, in its name, to the first commercially successful rap song, Rapper’s Delight, released in 1973 by The Sugarhill Gang. This tongue-in-cheek remix sets the tone for the pages ahead, under the guidance of author Dr Todd Boyd, who reflects on the genre’s cultural influence worldwide.

Rapper’s Deluxe: How Hip Hop Made The World

Man with mic at party, from pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Run-D.M.C. performs at a music business bat mitzvah, Long Island, NY, 1985, photographer Josh Cheuse

(Image credit: Picture credit: Josh Cheuse)

Speaking with Wallpaper*, Boyd reflects upon the inspiration for the new Phaidon book: ‘I was watching the 2022 Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show, headlined by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, live from Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, Calfornia. While watching this, I reflected on the fact that it had been 30 years since I originally moved to Los Angeles, in the shadow of the Rodney King riots.

Portrait of two men in baseball caps from pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, New York City, NY, 1993, photographer Michael Benabib

(Image credit: Michael Benabib)

‘[…]I thought about how much had changed over that extended period of time. The Super Bowl Halftime Show is the most mainstream cultural event in America. There was no way that Dr. Dre and Snoop, or anyone else from hip hop culture would have been given the opportunity to perform at such an event in the early 1990s. But here they were in 2022 standing on the biggest stage, now being embraced across the globe.

Black and white portrait of Mary J Blige, from pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Mary J. Blige, New York City, NY, 1991, photographer Lisa Leone

(Image credit: Picture credit: Lisa Leone)

‘As I thought about this and thought about how much has changed in America in this time, how hip hop had gone from being ignored, dismissed, ridiculed, and perceived as threatening, to now existing in this exalted place of both celebration and nostalgia, I recognised that I could now tell a story that had been not 30, but actually 50 years in the making. It was bigger than just rap music, though. The time was right to tell the story of hip hop as a 50-year cultural movement.’

Man beside car wreck, from pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Basquiat’s Car Wreck, New York City, NY, 1981, Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81, New York Beat Films, 2000, director and photographer Edo Bertoglio

(Image credit: Picture credit: © New York Beat Films LLC by the permission of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, photographer Edo Bertoglio)

Throughout, Rapper’s Deluxe traces the hip hop journey from its 1970s underground origin story to the ever-evolving, more mainstream profile it has today. Along the way, it takes in in Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House, iconic musicians like Biggie Smalls, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and A Tribe Called Quest, and Pharrell Williams making his mark on the fashion world. 

Singer poses in Tommy Hilfiger branded clothes, from the pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Tommy Hilfiger ‘Next Generation Jeans’ campaign photoshoot featuring Aaliyah, April 28, 1997, photographer Alex Berliner

(Image credit: Alex Berliner / BEI / Shutterstock)

Black and white photo of woman with two dogs, on steps, from Rapper's Deluxe

Lady of Rage with her dogs, Goldie and Max, Elysian Park, Los Angeles, CA,1994, photographer B+

(Image credit: Picture credit: B+ for Mochilla)

Men leaning on car, from pages of Rapper's Deluxe

Ice Cube and friends outside of his mom’s house, Inglewood, CA, 1990, photographer Janette Beckman

(Image credit: Picture credit: © Janette Beckman)

Book cover

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Rapper’s Deluxe: How Hip Hop Made The World, by Dr. Todd Boyd, published by Phaidon, £59.95, also available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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