Rooted in everything old school, cartoonist Ed Piskor is in the process of illustrating a full series of comics documenting the bedrock of urbanity: hip-hop. From what started as a web-comic series on Boing Boing, the first edition of Hip-Hop Family Tree was released in print back in November. Instantly gaining recognition as a non-fictional account of hip-hop’s early days, the cartoon is a graphic depiction of the genre’s constituents of gang-life, violence, and humor that cuts ass.
Loyal to his hometown of Pittsburgh, Piskor’s natural environment was scored with pop art and rap music, and his relationship with the two is obvious in his work.
“I was born in ’82 and hip-hop was already a thing, it sort of pushed beyond New York at that point and made it to Pittsburgh,” Piskor explained via phone to FRANK. “There were dudes in rap cyphers that would be walking down the street all the time, at the basketball court, in the parks. So that’s kind of how the hip-hop connection fits in.”
Featuring hysterical illustrations of innovators such as Russell Simmons, Grandmaster Flash, Kool DJ Red Alert, and many others, Hip-Hop Family Tree preserves an era full of lisps, drugs, and funk. Piskor, well versed in the realm of early hip-hop, transports readers to the Bronx, where the music is underground and still totally DIY.
Hip-Hop Family Tree is exactly what the title suggests, except it’s not some antiquated sketch of branches and names. This text is vital and explosive with color and honest dialogue that makes learning history so much more fun. With Book 2 already available for pre-order via Fantagraphics and four more books to follow, Piskor is determined to flesh out hip-hop’s excitable past.
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