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March 14, 2016

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1

Hip Hop Family TreeHip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1

By Ed Piskor

“Being in an Ed Piskor comic is cool enough to freeze hot water.” – Fab Five Freddy

This graphic novel begins in mid-1970’s. DJ Cool Herc is spinning records in a South Bronx rec room, using two of the same record to loop the instrumental “breaks” of his favorite songs. One night he experiments with mixing the breaks from two different songs – and a whole new sound is born. Hip Hop Family Tree drops us into the rec rooms, playgrounds, and clubs where hip hop was born.

With dexterity and detail, comic artist, and hip-hop-head, Ed Piskor gives us the bird’s eye view of the hip hop movement as it moves from playgrounds to recording studios and beyond the Bronx. Each personality is introduced with just the right touch to bring him or her to life. Meet the Brothers Disco and their sound system – the Mighty Mighty Sasquatch; Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five; pop artist Fab Five Freddy; MC Busy Bee Starski (who has to perform early because his mom has him on a curfew); and countless others. Piskor weaves in each new player – DJs, MCs, groups, gangs, kids, and record producers – smoothly jumping from one vignette to the next as a sprawling story takes shape like a Ken Burns documentary in comic form. You don’t need to be a hip hop fan to get pulled into this wild, often humorous, always fascinating story of the genesis of an American art form.

Hip Hop Family Tree was originally a webcomic published to BoingBoing.net. In print, each volume is published to create the look and feel of the comic books of the early 80’s. When you open up this larger than life comic book, you are transported back to a time when battle DJs were powering their sound systems with street lamps. Cue up “Rapper’s Delight” on your Hi-Fi, and dig in!

Review By: Addie Matteson