RZA, Jay-Z, DMX in side-by-side photo collage.
Source: Stefan Hoederath/Redferns; Jerod Harris/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Rhyme and Prose: 5 Must-Read Books Penned by Hip-Hop Icons

Several rappers have published their life stories by way of their memoirs. Add these five books written by rappers to your reading list ASAP!


Oct. 12 2023, Published 2:05 p.m. ET

Discover Proudly Amplifies Diverse Voices

From the booth to the book stands, hip-hop transcends the boundaries of music. The genre has, undoubtedly made its mark in the wonderful world of literature over the years.

Although rappers are best known for their bars, quite a few have penned best-selling biographies, too.

These artists have channeled their creative genius onto the written page, offering readers deeper insight into their minds and the culture that helped to shape their careers.

Below, we explore the best books written by some of the most iconic figures in the rap game — including DMX, Jay-Z, and more!

'The Rose That Grew from Concrete' by Tupac Shakur

Tupac wears tweed suit jacket and blue bandana and smiles.
Source: Getty Images

Tupac Shakur's posthumous book, The Rose That Grew From Concrete, was released three years after his untimely death.

Within the pages of Pac's poetry collection, we find profound verses like: "A young heart with an old soul, how can there be peace? How can I be in the depths of solitude when there are two inside of me?"

Article continues below advertisement

"This duo inside of me causes the perfect opportunity to learn and live twice as fast as those who accept simplicity," a poem in the book entitled In the Depths of Solitude: Dedicated to Me reads.

Penned between 1989 and 1991, these poetic gems remained hidden until after his passing. The book shed light on Shakur's pure artistry as well as the lens through which he saw the world.

Article continues below advertisement

'The Wu-Tang Manual' by RZA

The Wu-Tang Manual was written by RZA, the one-tenth of Wu-Tang Clan. The book was the first part of a four-part series.

The book delves deep into the intricate web of personalities, warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty.

The book offers everything from basic information about the group and a Wu-Slang glossary to in-depth explorations of key themes and detailed annotations of Wu-Tang lyrics.

Article continues below advertisement

'E.A.R.L.' by DMX and Smokey D. Fontaine

Having sold 74 million records worldwide during his lifetime, DMX (born Earl Simmons) had an awe-inspiring rags-to-riches journey that left an indelible mark on the music industry. Long after his death, his music continues to captivate audiences.

In DMX's autobiography, E.A.R.L, readers gain an uncensored look at his "great victories, supernatural turnarounds, and miraculous breakthroughs in the midst of great impossibilities" (via Twitter.)

Article continues below advertisement

'Decoded' by Jay-Z

Shawn Carter AKA Jay-Z attends "The Harder They Fall" World Premiere during the 65th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 06, 2021 in London, England.
Source: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Nabbing rave reviews from the likes of The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Los Angeles Times (to name a few), Hov's Decoded is part autobiography and part commentary.

Per the book's description, the work is a "collection of lyrics and their meanings that, together, tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time."

Article continues below advertisement

'The Way I Am' by Eminem

As told by the rapper himself, Eminem's The Way I Am is jampacked with valuable memorabilia. In the book, Eminem reflects on his greatest hits.

Additionally, his autobiography features more than 200 full-color and black-and-white photographs (some of which were never-before-seen) and lyrics from unreleased songs.

Fans who want a more intimate look into the rapper's life and career — from his early childhood to selling out arenas — will find this read worthwhile.

The author’s content and opinions have not been pre-reviewed, approved or endorsed by Discover.

It’s not just a magazine. It’s a lifestyle!

Sign up for our newsletter for early access to content, special promotions and giveaways.

Dope content. No spam. We promise.

More from Bleu Mag

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 Bleu Mag. Bleu Mag is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.