Review: Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1

Hip Hop and comics are one of those crossroads that usually go only one way. Often, it is usually spoken about as more background music than a lifestyle or a culture. One can make the argument music and comics have never been a good match, but I will always bring up the example of the KISS comics, which had a pretty long run and has had a recent incarnation. There have been instances where hip hop has been documented but not as much as one would think.

The very first instance I can remember is the single issue of the story of NWA and Ice Cube. The other instance, and what has been my favorite, is Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, which was a brilliant graphic memoir. Since then, other than the various members of the Wu-Tang Clan, writing and starring in their own comics, rarely has this road been traversed. Which brings me to Ed Piskor’s superior Hip Hop Family Tree, telling the history of this global culture.

In this very first volume, Piskor introduces us to the birth of Hip-Hop in the Bronx, where Kool Herc, is spinning records on the “wheel of steel”, which gives birth to the “emcee”. The reader goes on tour of how embroiled the culture was in drugs and gangs and how it could not let go of the ills surrounding it. It also shows how it caught the mainstream media’s ear with Blondie’s Rapture record, and gave rise to entrepreneurs like Russell Simmons and Sylvia Robinson. The volume ends, with Jocko Henderson, a 1960 DJ, revealing the mainstream media opinion of hip hop, which has since been disproved, that anyone can rap.

Overall, a strong first volume, which accurately tells the origins of the culture, in a way that had not been done before. The story by Ed Piskor is meticulously researched and truthfully portrayed. The art by Piskor is beautiful and vibrant. Altogether, an excellent chronicle of the era that not only captured its history but its spirit.

Story: Ed Piskor Art: Ed Piskor
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy