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Music is just one form to learn about the hip-hop culture. For those who are looking for a more in-depth way to learn why popular musicians are who they are and how hip hop has changed over several decades, biographies are one way to preserve the impact of those who are no longer contributing in the physical space. Below are 5 biographies on hip-hop artists that we know well, but were gone too soon.

Hip-Hop celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. August 11, 1973, marks the beginning of hip-hop, which originated in Black communities in the Bronx, NY. This year there have been several events commemorating the anniversary of the genre.

Questlove kicked off the celebration when he co-produced the 50th-anniversary hip-hop tribute at this year’s Grammys. The Roots drummer enlisted Queen Latifah, Method Man, Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, and more.

“Culture’s Biggest Night” aka the BET Awards also did their own tribute to hip-hop. The award show had performances from newcomers such as Ice Spice, GloRilla, Latto, and Coco Jones, and rap legends such as MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Trina, Trick Daddy, and more. Busta Rhymes was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Patti Labelle also did a special tribute to the late Tina Turner.

Additionally, Queen Latifah will be recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors. She will be the first female emcee to earn a Kennedy Center honor. And we can’t forget, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is inducting Missy Elliot into this year’s Hall of Fame class. She was the first woman rapper (and third hip-hop artist) inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Speaking of honors, rappers Ludacris and Tupac Shakur got recognition in Hollywood. These multi-platinum artists received their Hollywood Walk of Fame star this year.

Take a look at these five biographies on hip-hop artists that have since passed below:

  • 'Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography' by Staci Robinson

    Many books have been written on the life and tragic death of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur. However, ‘Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography’ is the only biography that has been approved by the late rapper’s estate. The biography takes a deep dive into who Tupac was and explores his lasting legacy in the genre. You can pre-order ‘Tupac Shakur: The Authorized Biography’ on Amazon or your favorite book retailer. It is set to be released on October 24, 2023.

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  • 'It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him' by Justin Tinsley

    While most biographies tell you only about the life of the subject, this one changes its perspective in its storytelling. ‘It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him’ is about the hip-hop icon’s life but it is also about how those closest to him viewed him. The biography has “extensive interviews” with those who spent the most time with the rapper professionally and personally. You can purchase ‘It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World That Made Him’ on Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

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  • 'The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller' by Donna-Claire Chesman

    Grammy-nominated Mac Miller was only getting started. While he tragically died in 2018 at the age of 26, his career was on an upward trajectory. ‘The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller’ shows how the music writer and longtime Mac Miller fan Donna-Claire Chesman, celebrates the life of the late artist. You can purchase ‘The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller’ on Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

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  • 'The Marathon Don't Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle' by Rob Kenner

    Nipsey Hussle’s motivation went beyond his music career. In ‘The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle’ the biography explores the man who made the music but also how Nipsey’s approach on life motivated his fanbase. You can purchase ‘The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle’ on Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

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  • 'E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX' by Smokey Fontaine and DMX

    Earl Simmons, professionally known as “DMX,” was also a hip-hop artist that was gone too soon. ‘E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX’ explores the New York native’s life before the fame and how his contributions expanded the scope of hip-hop. You can purchase ‘E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX’ on Amazon or your favorite book retailer.

    Get It Now From Amazon