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The Message:
Life Lessons from
Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs

by Felicia Pride
Foreword by Chuck D
Newly revised and updated
NBC Publishing, July 2012
16 New Essays!
Includes original photos!

buy the book:

eBook Edition

“I wish I would have written The Message. The book is a testament to the powerful impact of hip-hop music as both an art form and life force. Pride has unearthed the lyrical and thematic nuances that have empowered a generation to maneuver past personal and political barriers with confidence and style. By sharing her relationship with the music and how it has served as a soundtrack to her own life experiences, Pride provides a unique and important perspective for why hip-hop matters.”Michael Eric Dyson, author of Know What I Mean?


The Message is a literary mixtape of wisdom that has been culled from the all-time greatest hip-hop songs. Author Felicia Pride examines a wide range of hip-hop songs and artists, interpreting life through their lenses. Growing up with hip-hop, she has come to realize the way it shaped how she thinks, writes, reacts and how it has helped to make her the person that she is today. By incorporating her experiences and reflections with the rappers’ messages, Pride shares the wisdom she has learned from hip-hop and focuses on the valuable influence the music has on its audience. With each life lesson aptly titled after a hip-hop song—such as Kanye West’s “Welcome to Heartbreak,” EPMD’s “Please Listen to My Demo,” Nneka’s “Heartbeat,” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”—The Message explores spirituality, success, love, business, and more through hip-hop.

The Message turns the often negative perceptions of hip-hop completely around, offers a fresh perspective on why the culture is loved worldwide, and simultaneously provides motivational material for the hip-hop generation taken from its own unique artistic expression. In her introduction Pride writes, “This book is about searching for the power within and using motivational aspects of hip-hop music to help us successfully maneuver our worlds.”

The Message unleashes the power in the music and leaves readers with a soundtrack of wisdom to incorporate in their own lives.


Hip-Hop Education Fellow at New York University


“…reminds us how significant music can be in one’s life.”AllHipHop

With The Message, Felicia Pride has perfectly illustrated  the motivational nature of rap music, and how it relates to the hip-hop generation.  For those who would argue that hip-hop music is a destructive force, The Message shows evidence to the contrary and proves there is positivity in rap music for those who want to embrace it.” – Phonte of Foreign Exchange

“An amazing book. Definitely informative and a great read!” – CL Smooth

“Because it’ll remind you of why you fell in love with hip-hop”- Sister 2 Sister magazine

“The Message is one of the best literary works I have ever read and has motivated me to start penning my own piece. Thanks for the inspiration.” – Charlamagne Tha God

“[Pride’s] having a dialogue between author and reader about “Life”, with a capital “L”, and our places in it…” – PopMatters

“…self-help skills exchange for the fat beats generation.” – Idolator

“It is high time that someone wrote a book of meditations for the hip hop generation, and that is exactly what Felicia Pride has done with THE MESSAGE. This is Chicken Soup for the hip hop soul, Acts of Faith for b-boys and b-girls, Daily Cornbread with recipes written in rhyme. Everyone who loves hip hop should keep a copy of THE MESSAGE on the night table and consult it each morning.” – Sofia Quintero, author of the hip-hop novels Explicit Content, Picture Me Rollin’ and Burn

“The Message is an intellectual and artistic triumph. While reading it, my students and I experienced the overwhelming heights of this seismic little book, as we ventured through Hip Hop’s history to learn life’s lessons. Felicia Pride, indeed, has been the perfect tour guide for our journey, carefully moving us readers at a quiet pace closer to the fountains of knowledge from where we Hip Hop heads love to drink. Her writing is at once personal, powerful, and prophetic. Her book–inspiring, funny, practical, and spiritual–will be long put to use in my Hip Hop class at NYU.” – David E. Kirkland, Assistant Professor of English Education, New York University

“The Message is a must read for teachers and other professionals who work with youth. Hip Hop plays a major role in the socialization of youth worldwide. Ms. Pride’s work highlights the power of Hip Hop. Pride’s work illustrates the beauty of Hip Hop as an art form.” – David Miller, Urban Leadership Institute

“The Message resonated with my English students more than most classroom texts, and inspired them to think and write about the music that is meaningful to them.  It is a great catalyst for writing, and students expended a great deal of effort in finding connections between music and their worlds, which in turn makes them better, more thoughtful writers.” – Nancy Ferrone Teacher, FLAGS High School

“The Message has been an instrumental text in showing an entire 9th grade how to write personal essays about music.  Felicia Pride’s candor about issues like violence, racial and gender discrimination, hip-hop culture, drugs, family, relationships, and empowerment resonates with high school students.  And her strong writing voice, her well-crafted sentences, and her hip prose show high school students an accessible and smart way to write personal essays.”– Jeannie Reynolds, Education Consultant, Teachers College Columbia University

select press:

NPR Talk of the Nation |  Getting The Message from Hip-Hop Lyrics

USA Today | Read Between the Lyrics

Hip Hop Wired | The Message: Life Lessons From Hip Hop’s Greatest Songs Focuses On Rap Messages For Youth

Publisher’s Weekly | NBC Publishing Relaunches ‘The Message’ as E-Book, School Resource

theGrio | New Book Applies Hip-Hop Lyrics to Life

Baltimore Sun | Getting Out Message about Power of Hip-Hop

Clutch Magazine | A Salute to Scribes: Felicia Pride

PopMattters | For the Love of Art

Ocean County Public Library | Hip-Hop is a Tool to Engage Youth

Publishers Weekly | Who Me, a Self-Help Author?

select course adoptions:

  • 100 Black Men Saturday School
  • Alameda College
  • Art and Music Academy
  • Books for Boys
  • Brockton High School
  • Bucknell University
  • FLAGS High School
  • Interstages
  • Martha’s Table
  • New York University
  • Urban Arts Academy
  • Robert E. Lee High School
  • Sacramento City College
  • SEED School
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • The Hip-Hop Club