A thrilling narrative history of how one rap battle in New York transformed American culture forever. July 3, 1981, was a pivotal night for the future of America’s newest art form: hip hop. In New York’s Harlem World Club, the Fantastic Romantic Five and the Cold Crush Brothers competed, with an unprecedented $1,000―and their reputations―on the line in a highly anticipated rap battle. The show drew hundreds of fans to settle a question that still dominates hip hop circles: Who’s the best?
In Harlem World, journalist Jonathan Mael chronicles this fateful night of hip hop rivalry and shares a new look at how Harlem helped ignite a musical revolution. Set in the New York of the 1970s and ’80s, this book shares dozens of new, exclusive interviews and a treasure trove of previously unpublished archival material to tell one of the most important stories in hip hop history. This is the first book of its kind to focus on 1979–1983 and the legendary battles at Harlem World while connecting the genre’s formative years to its massive role in American society today.
Jonathan Mael is a high school teacher and reporter living in Sharon, MA. He has written for such publications as The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and ESPN.