"Decoded" by Jay-Z

Not quite as big an event as his album releases, but the anticipation is building for Jay-Z‘s Decoded. The book, which hits stores next Tuesday (Nov. 16), promises to be an entertaining exegesis of lyrics from one of hip-hop’s formidable rhyme writers. In an event that’s already sold-out, he’s scheduled to match wits with interviewer Charlie Rose next Thursday (Nov. 18) at the Brooklyn Museum.

At this event, setting is everything. It’s an attempt to position hip-hop lyricism on a level of the finest art that just might work, at least for the night. Jay is extraordinarily savvy at articulating his motivations and artistic choices as seen in this previous Rose interview. But for borough residents to see him in-action live could be a treat as big as his 2006 BAM concert.

From Decoded:

“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted it to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics—not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC—are poetry if you look at them closely enough. The second was I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.” – Jay-Z

Decoded is the Brooklyn rapper’s first book after all, and the marketing gurus at Droga5 have done their best to stoke interest with a cool social gaming aspect. Fans can read full-page excerpts of the book at various unlikely locations mentioned in his lyrics. His words could pop up on billboards, the bottom of a hotel pool, or on the table covers at his Spotted Pig restaurant in NYC. The info then directs you online for chances to win prizes like signed book copies and concert tickets.

In fact, hip-hop books may be having their cultural moment these days. The Anthology of Rap just dropped to mixed reviews. See here for its pros and here for its cons.

And 2011 looks to be filled with other forthcoming memoirs from Mobb Deep’s Prodigy and Ice-T. Plus, the good folks at Flavorwire have compiled a list of their favorite books by rappers.

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