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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Rap and Hip-Hop Research Resources

This guide provides an overview of Rap and Hip-Hop resources available through the Music & Performing Arts Library and other libraries across campus.


Reference sources are a great place to start your research when you need to gather initial information about a topic or get a rough overview of a subject so you can decide what areas to research further. Reference books and online tools are also excellent for looking up a quick fact, definition, or date, and they will often direct you to more sources.

If none of the recommended resources are quite what you're looking for, try a search in the Library catalog for the subject you're researching and "reference", "handbook", "guide", or "companion" to see what reference materials we might have on the subject. Remember that you can always reach out to a librarian for help if your search doesn't turn up promising results!

Choosing a Reference Source

We've divided our recommendations by category: encyclopedias, biographies, dictionaries, and discographies. Use the tabs on the box below to navigate the different categories.

  • Encyclopedias can provide helpful introductions or overviews, and they are an excellent source for checking quick facts. 
  • Biographies are an excellent reference for learning about a particular artist or performer's life and history.
  • Hip-Hop and Rap Dictionaries are a useful resource for navigating the subject's unique terminology.
  • Discographies provide lists of sound recordings with information such as artists involved, the date and location, the title of the piece performed, release dates, chart positions, and sales figures.

Rap & Hip-Hop Reference Recommendations

Related Cultural Studies Reference Material

This box collects recommended reading for issues related to rap and hip-hop culture including recommendations on African American musical culture, race in society, and street art.