The year 2018 brought with it a strong selection of varied and fascinating music books to lose yourself in, be they tell-all autobiographies, geeky deep dives into albums and legendary acts, or more personal reflections on how music entwines with life. End your year the best way possible and get stuck into some of these top reads.
Inner City Pressure: The Story Of Grime – Dan Hancox
Want to get clued up on grime before Stormzy’s history-making Glastonbury 2019 headline set? Journalist Dan Hancox charts the rise, fall, and second coming of the genre in this passionate, essential tome that explores not just the scene’s key players, but the political context surrounding it and its relationship with London, the city that birthed it.
Beastie Boys Book – Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz
The Beastie Boys story as told by the surviving Beasties themselves is something of a treasure trove for fans of all obsession levels. From Mike D and Ad-Rock’s own recollections on the band’s history to former drummer Kate Schellenbach’s reflections, contributions from a host of celebrity pals (Roy Choi, Amy Poehler, and Wes Anderson amongst them), a map of Beasties’ New York, a graphic novel, playlists, rare pics, and more, it’s an exhaustive but accessible look at one of rap’s most legendary groups.
My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen
Infamously unflinchingly honest about literally everything, Lily Allen’s book was always going to be a frank, eye-opening read. As well as the all bits you’d expect – the drugs, the boozing, the sex – it also finds Lil examining her childhood, taking fans inside the inner workings of the music industry, and more.
Raw: My Journey Into The Wu-Tang – Lamont ‘U-God’ Hawkins
Of all the members of Wu-Tang Clan, you’re probably least familiar with Lamont “U-God” Hawkins. Raw: My Journey Into The Wu-Tang will change all that, giving you a big peek into the dismissed rapper’s life and his part in the iconic NY troupe. In it, he also gives some insight into why, in 2016, he filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates, offering his side of the story.
Creative Quest – Questlove
If you’ve tried to do anything creative and been hit with imposter syndrome and crippling self-doubt, Creative Quest will provide you with the reassurance that even legends go through the same thing. Elsewhere, it’s full of inspiration for getting you out of that rut and a fascinating step into the mind of an icon.
Night Moves – Jessica Hopper
For any music obsessive, your record collection or just songs you hear on the street, in bars, and at friends’ places are entwined with your whole life, soundtracking even the most mundane moments, like biking home from the shop, sharing a bar of chocolate with any mates you pass. That’s one of the scenes brilliant music journalist turns Jessica Hopper into magic in her music memoir Night Moves, which sends you straight into Chicago and Hopper’s experiences of the city and its people.
Contact High – Vikki Tobak
Contact High is a behind-the-scenes look at some of rap’s most vital stars seen in iconic pictures and explained through the stories of the photographers who took them. From a young Nicki Minaj chowing down on pancakes to OGs like Kool Herc and Keith Haring, it’s full of great shots that you’ll want to keep savouring.
Transformer – Ezra Furman
In one of the latest instalments of the long-running 33 1/3 series, Chicago musician Ezra Furman took a deep dive into Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’. Furman’s exploration of the seminal record placed it in the context of queer history in America but also used it as a tool for a much more personal consideration of his own identity.
The Cure: A Perfect Dream – Ian Gittins
It’s not too late to celebrate the iconic goths’ 40th anniversary – Ian Gittins looks back on their rich history in this book published to mark the occasion that mixes lush pictures with stories from the band themselves, collected from Gittins’ own interviews with them throughout their career.
Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far – Stormzy
Rather than give a warts’n’all view of Stormzy’s life so far, Rise Up instead looks at his success and the people around him. In first-person interviews, the MC’s friends and colleagues give their insight on an extraordinary journey so far that will get even more extraordinary come next June. In doing so, it shines a light on voices that are often overlooked, in keeping with Stormzy’s ethos for his #Merky publishing imprint.