#NerdSwag [Reviews]: Hip Hop Family Tree / The Roots / Atmosphere

It’s that time once again for your bi-monthly dose of #NerdSwag! Starting out, we present a piece for you that should get you to wonder why we haven’t already. Free Comic Book Day had a plethora of cool books this year, but somehow — due to all of GHG’s daily awesomeness, perhaps — we missed the boat on this release; but as the old saying goes, better late then never. Amidst all of the Marvel (Rocket!), DC (Future’s End!), and so forth, there was the hidden gem that was the..

(or jump to: The Roots “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin”
/ Atmosphere “SouthSiders”)

Philly’s own Ed Piskor (Wizzywig) displays his insane knowledge of hip-hop…with comics. Obviously, what comic could be better suited for a review on #NerdSwag? Typically our Monsignor has handled hip-hop reviews that shine with a geek edge. With Hip-Hop Family Tree, we run with that concept backwards.

It’s arguable (or inarguable, pending which vibes you grew up with) that the history of hip-hop is about the most interesting history of all musical genres. That said, there may be no better way to discover that history than Piskor’s series. You could watch some 10-part VH1 “Behind the Music” series, sure; but why do that when you can read an insanely fresh comic book instead? This book, given out on FCBD, may have been one of the best FCBD books that was handed out just a couple weeks ago, if not ever.

It’s worth mentioning that the majority of the content in this book is available in the first volume of Hip Hop Family Tree and the upcoming Volume 2. That isn’t necessarily a fault, as it’s actually a really great way to swerve into the series as a whole. But the Two-In-One also has some great guest pin-ups and additional content, all plastered with classic Marvel Bullpen bravado.

Remember Ill Al Scratch? Me neither.
Remember Ill Al Scratch? Me neither.

In 32-pages Piskor also gives longtime “heads” and open-minded comic fans an on-point Hip Hop 101, starting with the late-70’s of Sugar Hill Gang and Afrika Bambaataa — with even more the origin of the term Hip Hop itself. The art packs a very classic style that nearly looks out of place on the high-gloss paper, but that retrograde palette makes the read all the sweeter.

If you were lucky enough to cop this on May 2nd — tight! If not, discovering the secret origins of these hip-hop superheroes is a must if you are passionate about both cultures.

In fact, there are plenty of parallels between the two mediums that will strike you. Just think: In more modern times, the Wu-Tang Clan is hip-hop’s answer to The Avengers; hell, Ghostface Killah has always referred to his emcee as Tony Starks. Johnny Blaze the Method Man, and so forth. And there’s no doubt many emcees’ rhymes of reason were inspired through comic books and the geek medium. Um, MF…Doom? Jedi Mind Tricks? Fans of hip-hop often listen to the genre to be taken on a wild fantasy, often times trippy sci-fi trip anyway. Let’s not forget Deltron 3030 — not too far from the stars of BattleStar Galactica.

But more than just a reminder that hip-hop existed before Drake, Macklemore and Rihanna, Hip Hop Family Tree is a fantastic showcase of how comic books can provide ill stories that are not all just super heroes and cartoon super villains.

Rather, this tool can be looked at a visualization of music through The Message.

5 (out of 5) Turntables.
5 (out of 5) Turntables.







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