Now that hip hop is over four decades old, a wealth of essential stories and criticism surrounding the genre has been made available at your local bookstore.

Although it can be tempting to skip past its storied foundation and dive deep into curated playlists to discover the next buzzing rapper, much to the demise of hip-hop's older generation, it's never to late to listen to the sage advice of those who conquered prior and take some time to "do the knowledge."

This article explores 15 important titles from hip hop's rich body of secondary literature, from volumes like Decoded, which unpacks the lyrical brilliance of Jay Z, KRS-One's The Gospel of Hip-Hop, which drawing from philosophy and religion to show how hip-hop is much deeper than just the music, to newer published works such as radio personality Charlamagne Tha God's new best-seller Black Privilege, which posits a new roadmap to success as a man of color, and Shea Serrano's The Rap Yearbook, which breaks down hip hop's history one influential hit single at a time.

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