What I thought of Hip Hop Family Tree #1



These are the monthly reprints of Ed Piskor’s lovely looking large volumes of the history of hip hip he’s been doing for Fantagraphics. I’ve been meaning to pick a volume up when I’ve got a spare few quid but in the meantime here’s the first issue of the monthly comic as a taster. Piskor manages to tell the story of hip hip from the days of DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash in the style of 1960’s and 70”s Marvel Comics, in particular the style of Jack Kirby.


This could have got tired quickly especially as these early years are the subject of many a BBC Four documentary, but Piskor makes reading these tales of the creation of hip hop a sheer joy and he’s giving details that I didn’t know. For many of us living on this side of the Atlantic hip hip probably came onto our radar thanks to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five producing these two utter bits of sheer bloody genius.

Piskor’s pages crackle with the energy of those early days, but it’s not a santitised version but thanks to this pop-art Marvel Comics style Piskor uses it never becomes too mired in the deprivation of the time.


I’ve not even heard of a lot of the acts Piskor discusses here, and names like Kid Creole come as a bit of a shock when I always thought he was a cheesy act lost in the mire of the 1980’s. As for how the term ‘hip hop’ came to be originated that’s included here too.



Overall this is a brilliant work of history not to mention art, because this is art detailing the creation of one of the few real American artforms which is hip hop. It’s a great comic made more accessible thanks to the monthly format, but fuck it. I’m buying the collected volumes because this is genius stuff.


There’s so much to love in this comic. Buy it!




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