As rap music's legacy grows older and larger, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell new generations about old school legends. Even the "Soundcloud rappers" of today won't be new school forever, as rap successors are sure to come up as time trudges on. Berlin-based illustrator and creative Andrew Morgan's new book RAP ABC, feels like the perfect solution for introducing young and aspiring hip-hop heads to a diverse legacy of rap music.
Designed in the accessible, all-ages-friendly format of an ABC book, RAP ABC pairs each letter of the alphabet with a different rap artist. Rappers currently at the height of their careers, like A$AP Rocky and Kanye West, share the pages with legends of yesteryear, like Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, and Wu Tang's Ol' Dirty Bastard.
Morgan's selection process was derived partially from his opinions on rappers' cultural significance, as well as his own personal taste. "I chose many of the artists because their unique, signature style makes them easily recognizable. Also, I tried to pick rappers that are broadly popular so the book would be accessible to a wider audience," he tells Creators. "I included some of the artists, because I got a cool mental image of what they would look like as a 'letter-ized' vector illustration."
The "letter-ization" Morgan refers to is the contortion of each illustrated rapper's avatar into the letter they represent. In doing so, he often employs slick visual puns, like transforming the haze from a joint smoked by Snoop Dogg into the top half of the letter "S," or ODB coiling himself into a letter "O" while throwing up the "WU" hand sign.
With its widely-encompassing repertoire and refined visual style, it's surprising that RAP ABC marks Morgan's first artistic foray into rap culture. But this isn't his first time treading hip-hop water, as he shares an intimate connection with the genre, emphasizing Southern rap in particular. "Living in Memphis, TN exposed me to the musical legacy of Stax Records, soul, rhythm and blues, and also Southern rap. These experiences made me realize how important it is to pass down musical history on to the next generation and what it can contribute to the community," Morgan says. "So, I thought a rap alphabet book would be a fun way to do that!"