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Music Is Life
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Music Is Life

Love a good song or concert? The titles in this playlist will bring you the history, superstars, and genre-bending trends that make up the music we all love.

JAY-Z

Made in America

By: Michael Eric Dyson
Narrated by: Michael Eric Dyson & Nick Cannon
Length: 5 hours 35 minutes

This program is read by the author, and includes an introduction written by Pharrell, and read by Nick Cannon.

"Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove


JAY-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael... Read more

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Kill 'Em and Leave

Searching for James Brown and the American Soul

By: James McBride
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 8 hours 59 minutes

“You won’t leave this hypnotic book without feeling that James Brown is still out there, howling.”—The Boston Globe
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Deacon King Kong, and Five-Carat Soul
 
Kill ’Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown embodied... Read more

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Shine Bright

A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop

By: Danyel Smith
Narrated by: Danyel Smith
Length: 13 hours 36 minutes

American pop music is arguably this country’s greatest cultural contribution to the world, and its singular voice and virtuosity were created by a shining thread of Black women geniuses stretching back to the country’s founding. This is their surprising, heartbreaking, soaring story—from “one of the generation’s greatest, most insightful, most... Read more

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The Beautiful Ones

By: Prince
Narrated by: Esperanza Spalding, Adepero Oduye & Dan Piepenbring
Length: 3 hours 4 minutes

The brilliant coming-of-age-and-into-superstardom story of one of the greatest artists of all time, in his own words—featuring the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death

Prince was a musical genius, one of the most beloved, accomplished, and acclaimed musicians of our time. He was a startlingly original visionary with an... Read more

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

By: Dawnie Walton
Narrated by: Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, Gabra Zackman & full cast
Length: 13 hours 16 minutes

“If you read the first twenty pages of this book and think, like I did "this seems exactly the same as Daisy Jones and the Six KEEP GOING. The way the stories are setup is similar, but Opal and Nev have a unique story that demands to be heard. Walton combines oral music history, intense relationship dynamics, and strong character development to... Read more

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Let Me Hear a Rhyme

By: Tiffany D. Jackson
Narrated by: Korey Jackson, Nile Bullock, Adenrele Ojo & Adam Lazarre-White
Length: 9 hours 31 minutes

“I listened to this book on audio during my commute & read chapters while at home and enjoyed it in BOTH formats. The story of 3 friends trying to get a record deal for their murdered best friend & brother was strained in parts but the desire to see the outcome & my enjoyment of the characters carried me through. Read more

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On the Come Up

By: Angie Thomas
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 11 hours 42 minutes

Don't miss this audiobook, Audible's Young Adult Audiobook of the Year and an Audie Award finalist!The YA love letter to hip-hop—streaming on Paramount+ September 23, 2022! Starring Sanaa Lathan (in her directorial debut), Jamila C. Gray, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Lil Yachty, Method Man, Mike Epps, GaTa (Davionte Ganter), Miles... Read more

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Go Ahead in the Rain

Notes to A Tribe Called Quest

By: Hanif Abdurraqib
Narrated by: Ron Butler
Length: 6 hours 17 minutes

The seminal rap group A Tribe Called Quest brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces. This narrative follows Tribe from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the Native Tongues, through their first three classic albums, to their eventual breakup and long hiatus. Their work is... Read more

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A Little Devil in America

Notes in Praise of Black Performance

By: Hanif Abdurraqib
Narrated by: JD Jackson
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes

“Hanif Abdurraqib's exploration of Black performance in America is a cultural keystone that is chillingly relevant. Whether discussing the fact that a knowing look or advice on a route from a cashier is a form of a living Green Book that still exists because there are places Black people are not safe, to the origin of the card game spades or the... Read more

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It Was All a Dream

Biggie and the World that Made Him

By: Justin Tinsley
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 12 hours 32 minutes

Journalist Justin Tinsley’s It Was All a Dream is a fresh, insightful telling of the life beyond the legend. It is based on extensive interviews with those who knew and loved Biggie, including neighbors, friends, DJs, party promoters, and journalists. And it places Biggie’s life in context, both within the history of rap but also the wider... Read more

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Liner Notes for the Revolution

The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

By: Daphne A. Brooks
Narrated by: Janina Edwards
Length: 20 hours 25 minutes

Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a century of music archives to examine the critics, collectors, and listeners who have determined perceptions of Black women on stage and in the recording studio. How is it possible, she asks, that iconic artists such as Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé exist simultaneously at the center and on the fringe of the... Read more

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Dilla Time

The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

By: Dan Charnas
Narrated by: Dan Charnas
Length: 14 hours 52 minutes

This program contains examples of J Dilla's music performed in the studio by drummer Nate Smith and is accompanied by a bonus PDF of maps, photos, guides, and more.

"This book is a must for everyone interested in illuminating the idea of unexplainable genius.” —QUESTLOVE

Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time...
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Get two free audiobooks AND support local bookstores Make the switch