To be a rapper or a respected one, you have to write your own lyrics, even when you’re not writing lyrics when you freestyle you still in a way, write a song. Rappers are slowly starting to become authors, especially 50 Cent. If you’re looking for book recommendations, here is a list of 12 of the best books written by rappers that you might enjoy, a lot of New York Times best sellers in this list.
Before we get started, special mention to our Rap Dictionary book of Hip-Hop definitions, if you are looking for a fun read or something for your bookshelf or coffee table, we definitely recommend grabbing a copy below or by visiting the link in this paragraph.
12 Rappers who have written books, their books and where to buy them.
1. Gucci Mane — ‘The Autobiography of Gucci Mane’
The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
by Gucci Mane & Neil Martinez-Belkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: September 4, 2018
‘The Autobiography of Gucci Mane’ is Gucci Mane’s first book published and his first New York Times best seller. He started writing his memoir and autobiography while he was in prison. The book tells Gucci Mane’s story, how he grew up hustling in Atlanta, and how his life shaped his career. The same editor who edited this book, Neil Martinez-Belkin also edited Rick Ross’ book Hurricanes, which is No. 8 on our list. The Autobiography of Gucci Mane is also available in a hardcover.
2. DMX — ‘E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX’
E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX
by DMX & Smokey D Fontaine
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Released: November 1, 2002
E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX is the first book written by DMX, the book is titled after his real name Earl Simmons. DMX grew up with a very busy and abusive mother and no father, his grandmother took care of him but his mom didn’t allow him to see her often, so he eventually turned to his dog for love. DMX details and reveals his trials and tribulations on his journey from growing up in the projects of Yonkers to who he is today and how rap/hip-hop saved his life. The book is 346 pages long and hardcover is also available on Amazon.
3. Logic — ‘Supermarket’
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 26, 2019
Supermarket is Logic’s’ first novel published and his first New York Times best seller. Logic released his debut book Supermarket under his name Bobby Hall, the thriller is based on a depressed character named Flynn who begins a job at a supermarket and his life begins to take a turn as he battles with anxiety and depression. The book also involves other mental health issues like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
4. Jay-Z — ‘Decoded’
by Jay-Z & Dream Hampton
Publisher: Random House
Released: November 16, 2010
Jay-Z was initially going to write and release a more personal memoir with the help of Dream Hampton but that project didn’t come to life and years later they partnered on a more broad autobiography and memoir. The book features and explains a collection of Jay-Z’s best lyrics at the time relating to his life. The cover art was done by Rodrigo Corral and initially the book was only released as a hardcover and the paper back was released about a year after on November 1, 2011. The book is filled with lot of photos and art, very pleasing visually.
Jay-Z has a couple books written about him, one relevant being 2015’s unauthorized ‘Empire State of Mind: How Jay Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office’ by Zack O’Malley Greenburg.
5. DJ Khaled — ‘They Don’t Want You to Read This Book’
The Keys: They Don’t Want You to Read This Book
by DJ Khaled
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Released: November 22, 2016
Around the time of his snapchat sensation phase, DJ Khaled released his debut book titled ‘The Keys: They Don’t Want You to Read This Book’, DJ Khaled’s first New York Times best seller. The book is a memoir while still fitting the motivating self-help/personal growth genre. DJ Khaled is giving his life tips also known as “The Keys” like; “Stay away from they” — they being your doubters and those who don’t want you to succeed, “Secure the bag”, his most famous one “Don’t ever play yourself” and plenty more.
6. Lil wayne — ‘Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers’
Gone ’Til November: A Journal of Rikers
by Lil Wayne
Publisher: Plume Books
Released: October 11, 2016
While Lil Wayne was behind bars at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York for eight months in 2010, he kept a diary. Five years after his freedom, he released a memoir describing his experience at the prison, what he learned during his time, and visits from Drake, Kanye West, & Diddy. This would be Lil Wayne’s first published book. Rolling Stone named ‘Gone ’Til November’ a 2016 “must read”. Keeping a diary in jail was a really good and profitable use of Lil Wayne’s time.
7. Eminem — ‘The Way I Am’
The Way I Am
by Eminem & Sacha Jenkins
Released: October 21, 2008
The Way I Am is Eminem’s second book and his debut autobiography. In the New York Times best seller book, Eminem shares the depression he went through went Proof died, some of his life stories including family and friends, lyrics, illustrations and never seen before photos he had at the time. The book was in collaboration and edited by Sacha Jenkins. Before The Way I Am, Eminem released a non-fiction book titled Angry Blonde in 2000 which became a national bestseller. Eminem previously revealed the first book he read in full was LL Cool J’s I Make My Own Rules which is No. 10 on our list.
8. Rick Ross — ‘Hurricanes’
Hurricanes: A Memoir
by Rick Ross & Neil Martinez-Belkin
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Released: September 4, 2018
Hurricanes is Rick Ross’ first book published and his first New York Times best seller. The book details his childhood story, his upbringing and come up in Carol City, Miami, his past life as a drug dealer and correctional officer, and the health scares he’s had. The same editor who edited this book, Neil Martinez-Belkin also edited Gucci Mane’s book ‘The Autobiography of Gucci Mane’, which is No. 1 on the list.
9. RZA — ‘The Tao of Wu’
The Tao of Wu
by RZA & Chris Norris
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Released: October 15, 2009
The Tao of Wu is the sequel to The Wu-Tang Manual and the second book written by RZA, the founder of the Wu-Tang Clan. RZA uses rap lyrics to explain and detail his path from the hoods of New York City (Staten Island projects) to who he is today, his spirituality and enlightenment by learning about religion. He reveals a lot of personal information including that he lost his virginity at 11 years old to an older woman who also taught him how to play chess and interesting things fans wouldn’t know about the Wu-Tang Clan. The Tao of Wu is 243 pages long and available in hardcover on Amazon.
10. LL Cool J — ‘I Make My Own Rules’
I Make My Own Rules
by LL COOL J & Karen Hunter
Released: September 15, 1998
I Make My Own Rules is the first book written by LL Cool J, This book is a National Bestseller and one of the oldest rap/hip-hop autobiographies (at least on this list). In ‘I Make My Own Rules’, LL Cool J details his wild story, his childhood; his abusive stepfather who shot his mother and grandfather. According to Eminem this is the first book he’s read in full. A few years later in 2000, LL Cool J released a children’s book titled ‘And the Winner Is…’, he also did the illustrations. At the time of this books release LL Cool J was the No. 1 selling rap artist of all time.
11. 50 Cent — ‘From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens’
From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens
by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson & Kris Ex
Publisher: MTV Books
Released: August 15, 2006
From Pieces to Weight: Once upon a Time in Southside Queens is the first book written by 50 Cent and his first New York Times best seller. In the 240 page book, 50 Cent details his complicated life hustling, growing up after his mother was murdered when he was 12 years old, and his journey to entrepreneurial success. 50 Cent has written over 5 books since the release of From Pieces to Weight; and his latest book is 2020’s Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter.
12. Russ — ‘IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD’
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD
Publisher: Harper Design & Schuster
Released: November 12, 2019
‘IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD’ is Russ’ first book published and his first Wall Street Journal best seller. It’s All In Your Head is a motivational self-help book, in which Russ relates to his self-made career and how he got to where he is today. On the yellow book cover is “get out of your own way” which the book deals a whole lot about. Russ is persuading and inspiring readers to realize that success starts with you believing in yourself and not being in your own way.
These are 12 good books written by rappers. If you’re a fan of rap/hip-hop and want to learn more about the culture, picking up one of these books is a great start.