Even if you don’t have a deep-rooted relationship with hip-hop, you’ve probably realized that rappers have a symbiotic relationship with food. From the outset, rappers have given shout-outs to their favorite foods in songs (from the Sugarhill Gang’s landmark single “Rapper’s Delight” to LL Cool J talking about Froot Loops in “Milky Cereal”), or used cooking terms to describe their prowess in the studio (à la Raekwon the Chef).
If we haven’t noticed from Action Bronson’s show on VICE, Fuck That’s Delicious, rappers like to eat and often are enthusiastic to share their culinary talents. From that, there is a growing trend of cookbooks dedicated to the world of hip-hop. There was even talk for a very hot minute that Ja Rule (you may remember him from such hits as “What’s Love” featuring Ashanti) was writing a cookbook dedicated to the microwavable recipes he developed while in prison. No, really.
Here are my top seven cookbooks by some of hip-hops and R&B’s finest:
Many people thought it was a joke at first: Coolio published a cookbook? But he did. Throughout the book, you’ll find recipes for what he calls “Ghetto Gourmet”.
Back in 2013, when 2 Chainz announced he would be releasing a digital cookbook with his album, B.O.A.T.S. II: ME Time, my reaction was “uh, obviously”. For those who have followed him on Instagram, 2 Chainz loves cooking on his tour bus and is an avid food-stagrammer. The instructions are rather hilarious and the recipes simple. In the words of 2 Chainz, “Embrace mistakes, and always cook within your comfort zone.”
So being Canadian and all, I thought I’d slip this one in. In the late 90’s, there was a Juno Award hip-hop/funk group called Bass is Base and one of its members was a young fellow by the name of Roger Mooking. Since his music career ended (pour one out), Roger has had a pretty extensive food career, owning several restaurants in Toronto and appearing on Iron Chef America, Heat Seekers with Aarón Sanchez and a show titled Everyday Exotic, which this book shares recipes from.
While many may know Isaac Hayes as his role as Chef on South Park, did anyone know he was an actual chef in the kitchen? If you had picked up his cookbook from 2000, then you may have. Focusing on traditional Southern soul food, Isaac uses the book to share recipes from his childhood, including some he picked up from his grandma. It’s one part autobiography and one part cookbook. No chocolate salty balls recipe, though.
This book is for true hip-hop heads who love food and design. The cookbook has 30 recipes with custom artwork created to go alongside some humorous and playful recipes such as Wu Tang Chowder, Run DM Sea Bass or KRS Buns. The book also includes a B.P.M rating to show the difficulty.
Everett Steele and Bunny Mcintosh set up their website as a joke, stating “Bon Rappetite is the world’s first hip hop restaurant. Featuring a delicious menu that caters to the ballers.” What they didn’t expect was the media onslaught afterwards. After teaming up with home cook Chris Hassiotis, they developed a playfully punny cookbook with recipes like Wu-Tang Clams, Lil’ Kimchi, and Roastface Killah.
In September, “Milkshake” singer Kelis is releasing her own cookbook. It features foods reflecting her Puerto Rican heritage, inspiration from her mother (herself a chef), tips from Kelis’ training at Le Cordon Bleu, and more.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a full-time community builder and official ‘head bee in charge’ of the food, fat and feminism blog, Fat Girl Food Squad. When she isn’t busy kickin’ ass and takin’ names, she is having serious feels for all things coffee, hip-hop, the art of drag, Kardashians, pizza and Doritos. You can find more bylines from her at Eater, BizBash and Toronto is Awesome. Follow her on Twitter: @amapod.