Rap and hip hop, the music and culture rooted in African American urban life, bloomed in the late 1970s on the streets and in the playgrounds of New York City. This critical collection serves as a historical guide to rap and hip hop from its beginnings to the evolution of its many forms and frequent controversies, including violence and misogyny. These wide-ranging essays discuss white crossover, women in rap, gangsta rap, message rap, raunch rap, Latino rap, black nationalism, and other elements of rap and hip hop culture like dance and fashion. An extensive bibliography and pictorial profiles by Ernie Pannicolli enhance this collection that brings together the foremost experts on the pop culture explosion of rap and hip hop. Author note: William Eric Perkins is a Faculty Fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois House at the University of Pennsylvania, and an Adjunct Professor of Communications at Hunter College, City University of New York.