Penguin is synonymous with good literature; if you have read anything worth reading you will have picked up a few Penguin classics. The books’ simple design has become the symbol of literary erudition and looks at home on every bookshelf. When I think of books I think of Penguin. Chances are you do as well.
What if, for example, I was bored one night and I thought it was a good idea to play around with Photoshop and add a few modern classics to their burgeoning collection of literature? What if, bear with me here, I thought some rap and hip-hop albums would be good Penguin books?
Well, I would say to you, I would have to spend an entire night scrolling through my music collection looking for clever rap album titles to transform into Penguin classics capable of holding their own next to the Hemingways. And it is not enough, dear friend, to find album names. I would also have to create small plots and make sure the rappers sound like creative academics that sip tea in minute cups with their pinky fingers sticking out.
Ludacris? No, dear boy, I would not read that drivel. But that new book by Sir Christopher Bridges is something I would have to show to the snooty De Torquevilles when next they come over. Let them see how they like hard literature going down, eh, wot?
The Adventures of Bobby Ray by Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr.
A heartwarming tale of childhood, growing up, and how hard it is to tie your shoelaces, The Adventures of Bobby Ray has entertained readers of all ages for the past sixty years.
American Gangster by Shawn Carter
Money, greed, power, and poetry—a crime thriller set in Harlem, New York, from master storyteller Shawn Carter. This literary behemoth has sold 4 million copies and been translated into 20 languages.
Asleep In the Bread Aisle by Asher Roth
Asher Roth’s humorous account of college life and the transition from student to adulthood is a commendable work of fiction from a fresh voice in the literary world. Brave, honest, and raucously funny, Asleep in the Bread Aisle deserves a place on every bookshelf.
The Beautiful Struggle by Talib Kweli
A hard-hitting novel from one of the literary giants, The Beautiful Struggle is a critically acclaimed novel about black identity, the loss of innocence in while pursuing the American Dream, and a father’s desperate desire to provide for his family. Readers of classic American authors will feel right at home between Kweli’s pages.
Born Sinner by Jermaine Lamarr Cole
A story about a young man searching for redemption after killing the man with whom his girlfriend was sleeping. Fast, edgy, and bursting with insights into love, loss, and regret Born Sinner is a classic in the making.
Food and Liquor by Wasalu Muhammad Jaco
A black Muslim rapper searches for spirituality in Hollywood while being pursued by excess, commercialism, and globalisation.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ – Curtis Jackson
A Prohibition era crime caper set in New York. Curtis Jackson’s first full-length novel is a literary work of art that this new writer might fail to exceed. Such is its brilliance.
The Heist by Ben Haggerty
A trailer park boy dreams of being a rapper. Ben Haggerty’s first novel is chock-full of fresh prose that brings literature to a new audience.
Last Train to Paris by Sean John Combs
A sweeping epic romance novel set in the Second World War. With delicate words, unforgettable characters, and insights into human nature that will leave the reader with much to think about Sean Combs has produced one of the novels of the decade.
Magna Carta Holy Grail by Shawn Carter
In this treatise on government, religion, monarchy, and politics are seamlessly blended by Shawn Carter, the award-winning writer of American Gangster.
The Eminem Show by Marshall Mathers
There is Marshall, he is the one with the troubled childhood. There is Slim Shady, he is the one who committed the murder. And then there is Eminem, he is the famous one. The problem is that they are all the same person.
Hilarity ensues in this dark comedy of poverty, music, fame, and excess.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye Omari West
The one thing omitted from the Bible is Jesus’s less popular younger brother, Yeezus. He was not conceived immaculately (two in a row would have said something about Joseph) and he cannot perform any miracles. That is where Satan comes in. In exchange for his soul, the devil will give Yeezus what he has always wanted: power, immortality, and some damn recognition.
This is an amusing tale of sibling rivalry, death, resurrection, and religious cover-ups on a biblical scale.
Nostalgia, Ultra by Christopher Francis Ocean
Nostalgia, Ultra is Christopher Francis Ocean’s 21st century response to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. An epic poem written in blank verse, this majestic work is a captivating read of drug abuse, lust, love and loss, and the quest for meaning in the jilted generation.
The Rising Tied by Michael Kenji Shinoda
Pearl Harbour is destroyed. The US is about to enter the Second World War. Kurosaki Matsumoto, a Japanese-American soldier in the US Navy, is torn between his two identities as he is shipped off to Europe to crack Nazi codes for the Allied Forces. Young, brilliant, and conflicted, Kurosaki must prepare himself to fight a battle in a battle of epic proportions, but the real war lies within.
Watch the Throne by Shawn Carter & Kanye Omari West
Two literary forces, Shawn Carter (American Gangster, Magna Carter Holy Grail) and Kanye Omari West (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), combine to write majestic a work on power and empire-building.
Thank Me Later by Aubrey Drake Graham
Aubrey Drake Graham’s self-published short works of fiction have garnered him a cult following amongst young readers. With his first commercially published novel he takes his writing talents to new heights and delivers a book that will fly off our shelves and find a home in yours.
Back For the First Time by Christopher Bridges
A science-fiction tale set in the deep American South. Chicken, beer, and time-traveling—it is H.G. Wells with a twist.
Life After Death by Christopher Wallace
When people say that only God can judge them they forget that He will. Life after Death is a humorous account of Tupac Shakur, a Los Angeles rapper killed in a shootout, and the many awkward conversations he has with God at his judgment.
Be by Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
There is poetry and then there is what Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. writes. Be is poetic exploration of love and black identity, told from multiple angles and in the fast, smooth verses of a veteran street poet.
—Black on Both Sides by Dante Smith
In a powerful and moving novella, Dante Smith shifts between being a rapper, a civil rights activist, and a culture critic. His take on black culture in the United States is fresh, insightful, and represents a brave, new group of black writers willing and able to write against the grain.
Author’s note: This post was designed for shits and giggles. None of these stories are real. All trademarks and copyrights belong to Penguin.